AISLE SAY San Francisco


Book, Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Based on a poem by Joseph Moncure March
Directed by David Davalos
Presented by San Jose Stage Company
490 S. First St., San Jose CA / (408) 283-7142

Reviewed by Judy Richter

"The Wild Party" is definitely not for youngsters or the prudish.

Presented by San Jose Stage Company, this musical by Andrew Lippa (music, lyrics and book) is full of decadence and simulated sex.

Based on a long 1928 poem by New Yorker editor Joseph Moncure March, it evolves into a love triangle that goes wrong.

Part of this triangle is Queenie (Allison F. Rich), a beautiful vaudeville dancer in New York in the 1920s, shortly before the great market crash. She lives with Burrs (Noel Anthony), a vaudeville clown with a gigantic chip on his shoulder.

When their relationship becomes rocky, she convinces him that they should throw a party. That's where most of the play's two and a half hours (one intermission) takes place.

Their guests include men and women of various persuasions. One of the later arrivals is Kate (Courtney Hatcher), joined by her new acquaintance, Black (Carmichael "CJ' Blankenship). He's a decent fellow who becomes the third part of the triangle.

He also does double duty as co-choreographer with Brett Blankenship, his wife. The dances they have created are a highlight of the show.

Lippa's music comes in a variety of styles, well delivered by the 14-member cast and by the band, directed by Lauren Bevilacqua at the keyboard.

The cast is led by the singing, dancing and acting of Rich, whose Queenie commands the stage. She's well balanced by the multi-talented Blankenship. Anthony as Burrs seems one-dimensional with the character's simmering anger.

Director David Davalos manages the large cast well despite the small stage. He's aided by the design team of Michael Palumbo for set and lighting, Abra Berman for costumes and John Koss for sound.

However, one wonders if the show would be less disturbing if it were in a larger venue with more distance from the action.

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