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Joseph Rivera
Joseph Rivera

The Wild Party

For a while, they live together happily sated. However, the relationship eventually sours. Burrs' violent nature, which once thrilled Queenie, now scares her ("The Apartment"). Still, she longs to generate the same excitement that brought them together. She suggests a party, and Burrs agrees ("Out of the Blue").

The Wild Party

The party begins with a parade of guests: Madelaine the lesbian, Eddie the thug, Mae the dimwit, Jackie the dancer, lover-brothers d'Armano, Dolores the hooker, and Nadine the minor ("What a Party"). Although Queenie radiates beauty and confidence, Burrs preys on other women. He makes his move on their youngest guest, Nadine. Despite her casual reprimand of his behavior, Queenie wants to hurt Burrs in return ("Raise the Roof").

The vivacious Kate arrives with her new friend, Mr. Black ("Look at Me Now"). Queenie, quite taken by Black, plans to make her move on him. Kate drags him away to meet the other guests. Queenie's plans are momentarily undermined ("He Was Calm"). The party's revelry continues: Burrs hits on Kate; Madelaine hits on Nadine, Eddie chugs beer and almost fights with Burrs. During the chaos, Black finds himself equally as taken by Queenie as she with him - much to the chagrin of Kate ("Poor Child"). As revenge, Kate plans on seducing Burrs. Meanwhile, in a corner of the room, Madelaine is in a drunken stupor and on the prowl for a woman with very little success ("An Old-Fashioned Love Story").

Realizing all of the trouble he is causing, Mr. Black tells Queenie that he will leave. Queenie, however, cannot let him go and leads him into the bedroom ("Tell Me Something"). In a moment of passion, the two begin making love. The party guests follow suit in the living room ("Come With Me").

The Wild Party is a 1975 American comedy-drama film directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant[3] for Merchant Ivory Productions. Loosely based on Joseph Moncure March's narrative poem of the same name, the screenplay is written by Walter Marks, who also composed the score. The plot follows an aging silent movie comic star of the 1920s named Jolly Grimm (James Coco) attempts a comeback by staging a party to show his new film.

The year is 1929 and sound films are arriving.[3] Once a great star of the silent era, Jolly Grimm has wealth, a mansion, a manservant, Tex, and a beautiful and faithful mistress, Queenie, but no longer Hollywood's interest. He desperately tries to get studio executives interested in his self-financed latest project, so he decides to throw a huge party at his house and show the film footage to the attendees.

The party turns into a loud, alcohol-fueled orgy. Jolly is unable to impress a Hollywood mogul, eager to move on to a more important social engagement, with the outdated humor and pathos of his work. The more he drinks, the more angry Jolly becomes. The arrival of an underage girl brings out a protective, possibly perverted interest on Jolly's part, while the attention paid to Queenie by virile young actor Dale Sword ignites a jealous fury in the sad comic that leads to violence and tragedy.

The script was based on Joseph Moncure March's 1926 narrative poem about a party given by a vaudeville comic in his walk-up apartment in Greenwich Village. Lyricist-composer Walter Marks thought the poem might make the basis for a musical film, and decided to write a film adaptation, which relocated the action to Hollywood at the end of the silent-movie era. Marks took the project to Edgar Lansbury and Joseph Beruh, producers of Broadway musicals such as Godspell and they agreed to executive produce. Lansbury thought the poem was so "wildly unconventional" it was only worth making with a budget of $200,000, "as an experiment in which the risks were minimised".[2]

Lansbury says "as we worked on it, the project sort of gathered momentum."[2] Raquel Welch agreed to play the female lead and the budget expanded. The film was financed by American International Pictures which normally specialised in exploitation films. Studio president Samuel Z. Arkoff said AIP usually made movies for the "Woolworths line" but admitted with this film, the company was "going to add a higher line" and that it was a "wildly artistic film".[5]

The show is presented as a series of vaudeville sketches, complete with signs at the beginning and the end (but abandoned for most of the show) announcing the next scene propped on an easel at the side of the stage. Queenie and Burrs, whose relationship is disintegrating, host a party fueled by bathtub gin, cocaine, and uninhibited sexual behavior. It quickly devolves into an orgy that culminates in tragedy. The guests include fading star Dolores; Kate, Queenie's best friend and rival; Black, Kate's younger lover, who has his eye on Queenie; Jackie, a rich, "ambisextrous" kid who has his eye on everyone, regardless of gender or age; Oscar and Phil D'Armano, a gay couple/brother act; lesbian stripper Miss Madelaine True and her morphine-addicted girlfriend Sally; Black prizefighter Eddie, his white wife Mae and Mae's underaged Lolita-like sister, Nadine.

LaChiusa said: "I don't think of it as something that was lost in the piece, but it would have been fascinating to see how an audience responded to a black Queenie. The show is all about the masks that we wear culturally and the removal of those masks over the course of the party. So it's all there...".[1]

The VaudevilleThe company recounts the story of Queenie, a blonde who works as a showgirl in the Vaudeville, who is attracted to "violent and vicious" men ("Queenie Was A Blonde"). She is currently living with a man named Burrs, who works in the same vaudeville, as the act after her. His act is a minstrel show, where he performs in black face ("Marie Is Tricky"). One Sunday, Queenie wakes up restless and she and Burrs soon come to blows. To try to put less strain on their relationship (and to convince her to put a knife down), Burrs suggest they throw a huge party and invite "all the old gang". Queenie is ecstatic and they get prepared for the evening ("Wild Party").

Queenie and Black meet up and find their attraction growing stronger ("Tabu"). Queenie asks him to show her how he picks up ladies, and his hypothetical soon turns into a real proposition ("Takin' Care Of The Ladies") and he pulls her up to dance ("Tabu Dance"). Kate and Burrs notice how close Queenie and Black are becoming, and Burrs wonders about the demise of fidelity ("Wouldn't It Be Nice?"). Queenie tells Black of her troubled existence, wondering why she was born ("Lowdown-Down"), as Burrs hypes up the party with Gin ("Gin").

The party quickly escalates, with everybody drinking, dancing, and arguing. Dolores warns Queenie of Burrs' first wife, who he beat to death, and Queenie escapes to the bathroom. There, she in confronted by Burrs of her entanglement with Black, and he begins to assault her. Kate barges in and saves Queenie, and Burrs furiously rejoins the party with a coked-up Jackie. Kate and Queenie argue about her relationship with Burrs, as Jackie and Oscar are found having sex in the bathroom.

Oscar and Phil argue publicly, while Mae and Eddie exchange heated words. Kate warns Queenie that Burrs will kill her, and when Queenie refuses to listen, Kate jumps back into the party. Eddie and Mae soon come to blows - hitting each other, as Dolores seduces Gold and Goldberg, bringing them into the bedroom. Distraught with the state of the party, Queenie is dragged out by Black, as the party continues in full swing ("Wild"). Madelaine searches for Sally, and asks her to say her name. The guests all gather and culminate in an orgy ("Need") as Burrs asks Kate about Black. Kate reveals that she knows Black is using her, but she is fine with it ("Black Is A Moocher").

Mae hears Nadine's muffled screams and Eddie charges in and beats Jackie. Eddie goes wild, threatening everyone as Queenie and Black arrive. When Eddie charges at Queenie, Black hits him. Queenie questions Nadine on what had happened with Jackie, but she refuses to call him out, instead saying she was scared and screamed. Jackie tries to start the party up again, and takes out more cocaine. Seeing the coke, Sally goes to him, leaving Madelaine. Madelaine chases after her, but is stopped when Sally asks "Who's Sally?"

Ben Brantley of the New York Times called it "a parade of personalities in search of a missing party . . . what has wound up on the stage is a portrait of desperation that itself feels harshly, wantonly desperate."[2] The CurtainUp reviewer wrote: "Overall, it adds up to a polished theatrical entertainment, with a distinctive edginess."[3] The Talkin' Broadway reviewer described the musical as "a dark, sensual, and glittering musical. LaChiusa has written several tuneful, witty, and character driven songs, which George C. Wolfe has expertly arranged and staged around the narrative provided by the source material; an interesting story gets told in appealing music and believable dialogue."[4]

A steamy prohibition tale, steamrolling and roaring its way across the stage, Andrew Lippa's Wild Party was an Off-Broadway gem in the year 2000. Based on a 1928 poem of the same name by Joseph Moncure March, The Wild Party tells the story of a vaudeville dancer, Queenie and a vaudeville clown named Burrs, her intense and violent lover. It's reaching the end of the Roaring '20s as Queenie decides to throw the party to end all parties and invites an assortment of characters living on the edge into their apartment in Manhattan. When a high-class prostitute (Kate) brings a mysterious man named Mr. Black along, Queenie and Burrs relationship is tested and the passions at play in this love triangle spiral out of control.

Nadine is appalled to find her sister in one of the bedrooms, and Grimm tries to comfort her; when she invites him to kiss her and he obliges, a fight ensues with one of the drunken guests. After Kate tries unsuccessfully to seduce Morrison, she comes downstairs and chides Grimm about being too old for Queenie. When some of the guests drunkenly call Queenie and Sword downstairs, Grimm goes wild with a gun, shooting them both and wounding Morrison. In hospital, Morrison puts the finishing touches on his poem, The Wild Party. 041b061a72


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