The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department

Amherst Wire

What makes “The Wild Party” so wild

Photo by Michelle Woodward

By Christina Gregg

Booze pours, songs are sung, and clothes are dropped as the UMass Theatre Guild presents their production of Andrew Lippa’s “The Wild Party” this Thursday through Saturday at Bowker Auditorium. The show begins with the tumultuous relationship between two vaudeville performers, Queenie and Burrs. Queenie decides that she and Burrs should throw a party and the madness ensues when a gang of delightfully entertaining degenerates stroll through, led by Queenie’s frenemy, Kate. Kate’s latest boy toy, Black, pines after Queenie while Kate pines after Burrs. The show ends with a big bang but incase you needed some further convincing, here are ten reasons why you should see this sultry performance.

1. The costumes

Bras, ripped stockings and garters, oh my! The characters of Wild Party are stripped of all layers, and so are their costumes. Plunging necklines dressed up with pearls and fringe covered dresses cover the lace undergarments that these less than shy characters reveal throughout the show. Pick your jaws up off the floor, fellas, and don’t worry ladies, there’s eye candy for you yet. The male cast members also ditch their suit and tie attire to darn white beaters and boxers.

Costume designer, Jake Dodson, says he loved the way the costume came together.

“I had so much fun decorating people,” says Dodson. “We’ve had a lot of fun with the 20’s flare. I think it really solidifies the period.” “Plus,” he adds, “Our ladies look amazing in this lingerie.”

2. The leading ladies

“No limits. No boundaries. No compromise.” That’s the motto of Wild Party’s star ladies, Queenie and Kate. I would say get these girls a spotlight, but they both already enter the show in one, and rightfully show. UMass seniors Dayna Fisk and Tara Smith play Queenie and Kate respectively. The show’s director, Katy Geraghty, says they were perfectly cast.

“Queenie and Kate are friends but at the same time are complete enemies,” says Geraghty, “and that’s funny because Dayna and Tara are friends in real life. They’ve been giving it 3,000 percent since day one.”

While Fisk portrays a broken, blonde Queenie locked in a marriage of heartache and confusion, Smith takes on a darker, more corrupt Kate who at one point exclaims, “Give me a bottle of bourbon and half a chicken and I’ll conquer the world!” Queenie is white lace while Kate is deep red satin. Overall, Smith and Fisk hold nothing back, leaving the audience wanting nothing except maybe an autograph or two.

3. The music

Every song brings something special to the table. Whether it’s the sizzling show opener “Queenie Was a Blonde” or the tragic closer “How Did We Come To This?” the libretto is jam-packed with tunes you’ll surely be humming for weeks to come.

4. The set

A good time in the 20s meant a stocked bar, a tuned piano and a constructed couch and that is exactly what this set provides. The versatile, moving set provides the perfect setting for a party. Red backdrops silhouette a lofted bed that literally puts sex on a pedestal. I think you get the picture.

5. The sex

An on stage orgy set to the sounds of the song “Come With Me” should just about spell it out for you.

6. The dancing

Hold onto your hats, because this show has some serious shoe stepping and toe tapping. Big dance numbers like “Raise the Roof,” “The Juggernaut,” and “A Wild, Wild Party” provide the hip thrusting, body grabbing and leg lifting that this lustful tale needs. Choreographer, Shailee Shah, says it was challenging to pick up some of the styles needed for “Wild Party,” but she’s happy with the way it turned out.

“I am super happy and proud of my cast,” says Shah. “They are very diverse in skill levels and they took it upon themselves and worked so hard.”

7. The laughs

There’s something for everyone in the unusual characters this show provides. If the lesbian character, Madeline True, singing of her desire for an “Old Fashioned Lesbian Love Story” doesn’t have you in tears then maybe the quirky couple, Eddie and Mae, in “Two of a Kind” will do it for you. The comedic line up includes a pair of incestuous brothers, a hooker, and a talented but mute dancer. I’d tell you what happens when all three of them walk into a bar, but I’ll let them tell the punch lines.

8. The guys

The relationships the men have with women in “Wild Party” ooze the glorified sexual promiscuity and dark tragedy that ran through the veins of the 20s. Burrs, played by Alan Couture, is Queenie’s tragically violent and possessive lover. A clown by trade, he is juxtaposed against Kate’s clean cut well-mannered boyfriend, Black, played by Peter Carboni. Together, the two become involved in a tangled foursome of lust and betrayal with their female counterparts. In a plot line where love resembles an empty glass of scotch and an unhooked bra, these men take the show’s dark side to a new height.

9. The cast

When it comes to preparing for the show, this cast did not mess around. Their schedule consisted of Sunday through Thursday rehearsals from 6 to 10 p.m. Geraghty says she told her cast to go “balls to the wall,” and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

“It’s a very interesting cast dynamic and they’ve tackled it full out with maturity from day one,” says Geraghty. “It’s the kind of show where two cast members could be making out against a table in the background, and at times that happens.”

The cast hits all the right notes and perfectly touches on the subtleties between vulnerable, sexy, dark, and open. By the end of the show, you’ll find the cast members jumping out at you in your seat, literally.

10. The party

Dealing with a cranky neighbor who threatens to call the cops, dancing a drunken night away, eating the forbidden fruit and liking it, sound familiar? No, I’m not talking about a night on College Street, but although “The Wild Party” is set in a period almost a century in the past, the feelings these characters emote and portray are classically relatable. Betrayal, heartache, love, lust and the dark humor that threads it all together are what make this show so great.

So grab your friends and get your tickets. “The Wild Party” will be performed at Bowker Auditorium Nov. 7, and 8 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 2 and 8 p.m.

The UMass Theatre Guild is throwing a “Wild Party,” and they’re inviting you.

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