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The Broadway musical The Wild Party comes to London.
It has been announced that Michael John LaChiusa's 2000 Broadway musical The Wild Party will reopen the St James Theatre in Victoria as it changes its name to The Other Palace from February 2017. This new production, directed and choreographed by Olivier Award-winner Drew McOnie, will star Frances Ruffelle in the role of Queenie, and be produced by Paul Taylor Mills.
The production will run from 11 February to 1 April 2017, with an official opening on 20 February 2017.
Based on the 1928 Joseph Moncure March narrative poem of the same name, The Wild Party features music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa and book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe. The show was originally presented on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre in April 2000, running for just 68 performances. The show happened to open simultaneously with an off-Broadway production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party, which used the same source material to create a much different musical.
Presented in five acts or scenes, it takes the form of a number of vaudeville sketches which casually disintegrate as the evening wears on. Queenie and her partner Burrs plan to throw a "wild party", and invite a colourful cast of characters that epitomise the world of 1920s New York, including a fading star, an "ambisextrous" socialite, a gay brother act, a lesbian stripper, a boxer and an underage innocent girl. Queenie's best friend and rival Kate brings her new lover who attracts Queenie's attention, as as the party descends into gin, sin and booze, truths are exposed and questions are asked of all the guests.
Drew McOnie won the Olivier Award earlier this year for his work on In The Heights. His credits include the new dance pieces Drunk and Jekyll and Hyde (Old Vic) as well as recent productions of Chicago, Oklahoma! and Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre). He is currently directing and choreographing the UK premiere of Strictly Ballroom.
The production will feature musical direction by Theo Jamieson, set and costume design by Soutra Gilmour and lighting design by Richard Howell.
Frances Ruffelle (Queenie) won a Tony Award for creating the role of Eponine in the 1987 Broadway production of Les Miserables. Her West End musical theatre credits include Starlight Express, Chicago, Pippin and most recently The A to Z of Mrs P at the Southwark Playhouse and Piaf at the Leicester Curve Theatre.
Speaking of the announcement, Ruffelle said: “I discovered the amazingly edgy, jazz-infused score to The Wild Party about 10 years ago. Many West End producers have tried to get the rights with no success, but luckily for me, the composer Michael John LaChuisa was in the audience when I was performing my solo show in New York. We were introduced after the show and I asked him why the show hadn’t been seen in London. He just said: “You are my Queenie, it’s yours”. It really is a dream come true, and I’m now working hard preparing for a role that I know will be demanding but hugely rewarding."
Formerly the St. James Theatre, The Other Palace will officially open its doors in February 2017, and will be a home and breeding ground for musicals at various stages of development. The Other Palace will focus on four key areas: programming, creative use of spaces, musical theatre development and audience engagement.
Tickets for The Wild Party are now on sale.