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Firehouse Theatre Project The Wild Party

By • Nov 24th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
The Wild Party
Firehouse Theatre Project: (Info) (Web)
Firehouse Theatre, Richmond, VA
Through December 28th
2:30 with intermission
$35/$29 Seniors/$16 Student, RAPT, Military
Reviewed November 22nd, 2013

After a long and tiring first full week back to teaching full-time, I was a little overwhelmed by so many shows opening this weekend in Richmond. However, I was also looking forward to them, and especially expected Firehouse Theatre Project’s production of The Wild Party to be a fun evening. Unfortunately, the show was neither wild nor much of a party.

The musical is an adaptation by Andrew Lippa based on poetry of Joseph Moncure March; whose writing was considered scandalous and sometimes even banned back in the 1920’s. But the world has changed, and although there is some strong sexual content and language, there is little that is shocking about The Wild Party. From start to finish, much of it is predictable and a bit repetitive.

Two 1920’s performers; Burlesque singer Queenie (Grey Garrett) and Vaudeville clown Burrs (Terence Sullivan) have a tempestuous and often violent and abusive relationship. Queenie decides to throw a “Wild Party” to get even with him during the 1920’s prohibition era. The remaining two and a half hours are filled with expository songs in a semi-operatic storytelling style; with little dialogue.

Director Jase Smith frequently has the actors perform as if this was the Vaudeville era; facing the audience and staying fairly stagnant. This is broken up with several vivacious dance numbers, which are greatly enhanced by masterful lighting effects from Andrew Bonniwell. Starrene Foster’s choreography is hit or miss, much like the rest of the show, as the small stage and varying abilities of the performers leave many of the numbers looking unbalanced, unsynchronized and awkward. Edwin Slipke Jr’s 1920’s apartment set is basic but authentic, with a large window frame used well to frame performers in various songs.

The greatest strength lies with the four principal performers involved in a love quadrilateral, who vocally make up for much of what was otherwise lacking. Sullivan and Garrett (who sizzles as a sensuous Marilyn Monroe-esque blonde bombshell) are joined by Josh Marin (Black) and Joy Marie Newsome (Kate) in most of the stand out numbers. Newsome especially infused life into the show with her glittery dress and even more dazzling singing and stage presence.

Carolyn Meade (Madeline True) also stood out with some of the only comedic moments that brought me beyond a giggle.

I should point out that audience response was very mixed. While several people I spoke to after the show agreed with my assessment, many others in the audience gave the performers a standing ovation. So I guess the best way I can close this is to say, go see the Wild Party for yourself and see which group you agree with.

Photo Gallery

Photo 1 Photo 2
Photo 3

Photos by Bill Sigafoos

Cast

  • Queenie: Grey Garrett
  • Buris: Terence Sullivan
  • Kate: Joy Marie Newsome
  • Black: Josh Marin
  • Madeline True: Carolyn Meade
  • Oscar: Andrew Dilday
  • Eddie: David T. Zimmerman
  • Mae; Brianne Chin
  • Sam: Charley Raintree
  • Max: Brian Baez
  • Nadine: Sasha Wakefield
  • Dolores: Anna Starnes
  • Jackie: Egbert Vongmalatthong
  • Neighbor: Jason Roop

The Production Team

  • Director: Jase Smith
  • Musical Director: Ben Miller
  • Choreographer: Starrene Foster
  • Production Manager, Promotional Videographer: Annie Colpitts
  • Production Stage Manager, Light Board Operator: Sharon Gregory
  • Assistant Stage Manager, Spot Light Operator: Tessa Hoerst
  • Technical Director, Sound Designer, Sound Board Operator: Joey Luck
  • Assistant Set Designer, Master Carpenter: Joshua Bennett
  • Production Assistant, Scenic Painting Assistant: Christina Delli-Santi
  • Spot Light Operator: Eric Brothers
  • Props Master: Kiari Hicks
  • Dramaturg: Alexander Gerber
  • Backstage Crew: Katherine Wright
  • Set Crew: Tessa Hoerst, Brian Yatsko, Kerriann Crosby, Kyle Mcclurgy, Ryan Miller, Cary Whiteside

The Band

  • Piano: Ben Miller
  • Percussion: Joe Lubman
  • Bass: Mike Cruz
  • Guitar: Joe Barry
  • Reeds: Chris Sclafani

Disclaimer: Firehouse Theatre Project provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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