I am known for my fairness to all of the theater companies in the area, and for the most part, I am on a more positive note than the other reviewers. I am not sure just why, but attending an afternoon show of “The Wild Party” Bailiwick Chicago’s season opener, which everyone loved on opening night, was a somewhat “downer” for me. It has potential and from my point of view is a work in progress, with some strong talent and a score and story that might become stronger with some work.
The book (Michael John LaChiusa & George C. Wolfe_ and Music and lyrics (Michael John LaChiusa) are based on a poem of the same name by Joseph Moncure March depicting the story of a 1920’s, Manhattan fable about love, drugs, alcohol, sex and decadence. The 100 minute (no intermission) story begins on a small stage where we meet the characters of the show, in particular, Queenie (Danni Smith does a powerful job) and then we segue into the Manhattan penthouse that Queenie hosts her house party at. From this point, director/Choreographer Brenda Didier take sus on a ride through the boys loving boys, girls loving girls, everyone loving everyone as they sing and dance their ways into our hearts and into the bedroom on stage right ( a lot of action takes place in this area).
The set is divine fo r the small stage (Richard Christiansen Theater) upstairs at Victory Gardens (Megan Truscott) with some very unusual pieces. The prop master (Lisa Griebel) did an absolutely fabulous job and the lighting (Brian Hoehne) and costumes (Theresa Ham) all allowed for the overall picture painted by Didier to leave an imprint. The music had some tunes that were highly energetic, but the story, in my opinion, needs some work. There are some talented actors/performers in this show who should be recognized for their quality work (in spite of the material); Danielle Brothers (always solid in her work), Matthew Keffer ( who has more energy than most performers, but where were his shoes?), Patrick Falcon and Jason Richards and Jason Grimm as Gold and Goldberg.
This is a show that is for mature audiences as there is every little sexual thing one can imagine, including a rape scene of a teeny-bopper who wants to be a star.It seems that every stereo-type one can imagine finds its way on to the stage in this musical fable, and despite this, I see promise. A little mix here and there , a bit of re-writing and who knows, this may be a show worth viewing (but not for the family). There is talent in this cast and the musicians bring the jazzy music to a fever high pace and while the lyrics are not memorable the sounds have a great beat and would be great background music for a party.
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Tuesday,October 28th is industry night at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $40 ( general admission). Call the box office at 773-871-3000 , in person at the theater located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue or online at www.victorygardens.org
to learn more about Bailiwick Chicago, visit www.bailiwickchicago.com
to see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at
“The Wild Party”.