Theatre: "The Wild Party" opens April 20

By Susan Meikle, university news and communications

wild-partyThe Miami University department of theatre will present “The Wild Party,” with book, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, at 7:30 p.m. April 20-22 and April 26-29, and at 2 p.m. April 23 and 30, in Gates-Abegglen Theatre, Center for Performing Arts.

A talkback follows the April 26 performance.

The musical is directed by Cincinnati-based guest director Ed Cohen, with music direction by Stephen Lytle, associate director of bands at Miami.

“The Wild Party” won the 2000 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. It is described by critics as a “darkly brilliant show (that) features one of the most exciting, pulse-racing scores ever written.”

Based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 poem of the same name, Andrew Lippa’s “The Wild Party” tells the story of a vaudeville dancer named Queenie and a vaudeville clown named Burrs — her passionate and violent lover. Queenie is fed up with the life she lives and the pain Burrs puts her through, so she decides to throw the party to end all parties to shake things up a little. Burrs agrees, and they invite a whole slew of colorful characters to their home.

The 1920s, as inhabited by the characters in “The Wild Party,” was a time of great social transition, both in our collective morality and the way in which celebrities were perceived by the public, Cohen said. “The poem upon which it is based parallels the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, where a famous silent film comic was tried for a rape and murder which took place at the sort of party depicted in our show,” he said.  “The point was made that real people exist behind their famous facades, often not nearly as pretty as their public images.”

“Our production is a small and intimate story disguised as a big musical,” Cohen said. “There are plenty of songs and lots of choreography, but at the end, it’s a play about damaged people and how the choices they make can lead to happiness, tragedy, or some of both.”

Talkback April 26

“What's the cost?:” A discussion focusing on decisions, behaviors and consequences as portrayed in “The Wild Party” and the relevance to today's party culture nearly a century later. Led by Alisha Bond, cast member and graduate student in theatre, with members of the cast and crew. 



Cast members of "The Wild Party" (photo by Ricardo Trevino).

$12 adult, $9 seniors, $8 student/youth, available at the H.O.M.E. box office in 129 Campus Avenue Building.

Design team

  • Vocal director: Lisa Ericksen, adjunct professor of theatre and music at Miami; lecturer, Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music
  • Choreographer: Jay Goodlett, associate artistic director for the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati; adjunct professor of dance at Northern Kentucky University. 
  • Assistant director: Becca Braun, senior theatre and music double major, music theatre minor.
  • Scenic designer: Gion DeFrancesco, associate professor of theatre.
  • Lighting designer: Marley Wooster, assistant professor of theatre.
  • Costume, hair and makeup designer: Melanie Mortimer, assistant professor of theatre
  • Sound designer: Jason Sebastian, freelance film, theatre and music designer, engineer and composer.

Go to "The Wild Party" website for a full list of cast and crew and more information about the production.

Please note: "The Wild Party" contains strong adult content including sexual content and the depiction of relationship abuse.