The Hippo


Apr 24, 2019








The Actorsingers present The Wild Party. Courtesy photo.

The Wild Party 

When: Friday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. 
Where: Janice B. Streeter Theatre, 14 Court St., Nashua 
Tickets: $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors 
More info:, 320-1870

On the fringe
Actorsingers get racy with The Wild Party

By Angie Sykeny

 From The Music Man and Spamalot to Rock of Ages and Singin’ in the Rain, The Actorsingers have put on numerous Broadway classics over the years. But each summer, in addition to its mainstage productions, the Nashua-based community theater puts on a different kind of show. 

The “Fringe Show” series was started three years ago as a way to bring lesser-known, edgier musicals, often containing mature content, to the New Hampshire stage. This year’s Fringe show, The Wild Party — a 1920s tale of sex, jealousy and violence — definitely fits the bill.  
Director Beth Schwartz, who proposed the show, says she fell in love with it about 12 years ago when a friend introduced her to a cast recording. 
“I played it pretty much nonstop until my children begged me to play something else,” she said. “It was the music that got me, even before I knew anything about the story. … It’s challenging — at times, haunting, at times, comical. There’s levity in the score. It shows you the dark and seedy side of things without taking you too far into an abyss.” 
The Wild Party, written by Andrew Lippa and based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 poem of the same name, centers on the toxic and volatile relationship between a vaudeville dancer named Queenie and her lover, a vaudeville clown named Burrs. In an attempt to restore some passion to their relationship, the two decide to throw a wild party to end all parties. At the party, Queenie finds herself taken with a mysterious man named Mr. Black, who arrived with her friend Kate. Things take a violent turn as Queenie’s feelings for Mr. Black are reciprocated and Burrs is unable to control his jealousy.   
The cast consists of 23 members, five of whom were involved in both of the previous Fringe productions, American Idiot in 2015 and Bat Boy The Musical in 2016. Schwartz says she couldn’t be happier with the casting choices, and that the cast has great chemistry. 
“With shows like this, because there is a lot of sexuality, we work a lot on cast bonding and getting to know each other and feeling comfortable and trusting of each other,” she said. “Because of that, the cast is a very tight unit.” 
The risque nature of The Wild Party does pose some challenges, one of which is finding a way to keep things tasteful while still staying true to the show, Schwartz said. For her, it’s also made for some uncomfortable moments during rehearsals with the actors, all adults now but some of whom she’s known for years. 
“Many of the cast members are my children’s friends or my friends’ children, and there’s one actor I’ve known since he was 6 years old, so it makes it a little awkward to choreograph them in a sex scene,” she said. “But we all approach it in a very mature and professional manner, and that has made it easier.” 
The musical uses a one-unit set — the apartment where the party is held — with moveable pieces to create the bedroom scenes and a bathroom scene, where one half of an act takes place. 
“Relationships grow, build and crumble in the course of five songs in a 5-by-9-foot bathroom,” Schwartz said. “I think that might have been my biggest challenge directing — having all that play out in such a small area and making it look interesting.” 
Having served as the stage manager for American Idiot and as a makeup technician for Bat Boy, Schwartz said the Fringe series gives community theater actors a unique opportunity to perform in more offbeat roles, and gives audiences the chance to see shows that are rarely produced on a local level. The last time The Wild Party was produced in New Hampshire, she said, was six years ago.  
“The Fringe productions aren’t something you’ll see a lot of other theater companies performing,” Schwartz said. “They push the envelope a bit, and I like that.” 

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