Full casting is announced today for Michael John LaChiusa’s THE WILD PARTY, which receives its first major London production at The Other Palace, playing from Monday 13 February to Saturday 1 April 2017, with a press night on Monday 20 February. THE WILD PARTY will be the inaugural production at The Other Palace, formerly St. James Theatre, when it reopens in February 2017 as the newest addition to The Really Useful Theatres Group and a home for new musical theatre.
Joining the previously announced Frances Ruffelle as Queenie are John Owen-Jones as Burrs, Simon Thomas as Black, Donna McKechnie as Dolores, Dex Lee as Jackie, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Kate, Ako Mitchell as Eddie, Gloria Obianyo and Genesis Lynea as The D’armano Bros, Melanie Bright as Sally, Lizzy Connolly as Mae, Steven Serlin as Goldberg, Sebastian Torkia as Gold, Bronté Barbé as Nadine and Tiffany Graves as Madelaine.
Set against a backdrop of Manhattan decadence and 1920’s excess, The Wild Party tells the story of Queenie and Burrs, a Vaudeville showgirl and a Vaudeville clown whose relationship is marked by vicious behaviour and recklessness. In an attempt to salvage their toxic union, they decide to throw a party to end all parties. The guests are a vivid collection of the unruly and the undone: a cocaine-sniffing bisexual playboy; a washed-up boxer; a diva of indeterminate age; a fresh-faced ingénue; and a handsome Valentino who catches Queenie’s roving eye. The jazz and gin soaked party rages to a mounting sense of threat, as artifice and illusion are stripped away. But when midnight debauchery turns into tragedy, the revellers must sober up and face reality. After all, no party lasts forever.
Based on Joseph Moncure March’s narrative poem of the same title, THE WILD PARTY originally opened on Broadway in 2000 with a cast including Toni Collette, Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt. The production received 7 Tony Award nominations, and a Grammy Award nomination for its composer and lyricist Michael John LaChiusa. LaChiusa is one of the most prolific writers for the American musical stage, with works including Hello Again (1994), Marie Christine (1999), The Wild Party (2000) and See What I Wanna See (2005). He was nominated for Tony Awards for his book and score for The Wild Party and Marie Christine, and for his book for Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
THE WILD PARTY will be directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie, who received the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer for his work on In The Heights (King’s Cross Theatre). Drew is directing and choreographing the European Premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom at West Yorkshire Playhouse this Christmas, with other recent choreography credits including Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Bugsy Malone (Lyric Hammersmith), The Lorax (The Old Vic) and Oklahoma (UK Tour). Drew is also the Artistic Director of The McOnie Company, for which he recently created a new dance-thriller version of Jekyll and Hyde at The Old Vic.
THE WILD PARTY is produced by Paul Taylor-Mills, who is the new Artistic Director of The Other Palace. Paul’s recent productions as a producer include In The Heights (King’s Cross Theatre), The Last Five Years (St. James Theatre), Side Show (Southwark Playhouse) and Carrie: The Musical (Southwark Playhouse).
THE WILD PARTY has music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa and a book by George C. Wolfe and Michael John LaChiusa. It is directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie with musical direction by Theo Jamieson (Funny Girl, West End), set and costume design by Soutra Gilmour (Dr Faustus, Urinetown, The Commitments, West End) and lighting design by Richard Howell (Jekyll and Hyde, Old Vic). Casting is by Will Burton. It is presented by Paul Taylor-Mills by arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe.
John Owen-Jones is best known for his performance as Jean Valjean in Les Misérabes, playing the role to acclaim in the West End, on Broadway and in the 25th Anniversary Production. He has also played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera in the West End many times.
Simon Thomas has played Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre), Warner in Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre) and Rapunzel’s Prince in Into The Woods (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). Television credits include Drifters (Channel 4), Jonathan Creek (BBC) and Doctor Who (BBC).
Donna McKechnie is best known for creating the role of Cassie in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line, receiving a Tony Award for her performance. Her many other Broadway credits include Promises, Promises, in which she danced the iconic ‘Turkey Lurkey Time’, On The Town, Company and State Fair. The Wild Party will mark Donna’s return to the London stage for the first time in 20 years after appearing in Follies at Drury Lane.
Dex Lee is currently playing Danny in Grease at Curve Theatre, Leicester, with other recent credits including In The Heights (King’s Cross Theatre), Hairspray (UK Tour) and The Scottsboro Boys (Garrick Theatre).
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt recently appeared in Murder Ballad (Arts Theatre), with other credits including In The Heights (King’s Cross Theatre), A Chorus Line (London Palladium) and Gypsy (Curve Theatre, Leicester).
Ako Mitchell is currently starring in Ragtime at Charing Cross Theatre with other credits including Grey Gardens (Southwark Playhouse), Little Shop of Horrors (Royal Exchange, Manchester) and Sister Act (London Palladium).
Gloria Obianyo’s recent credits include The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). Genesis Lynea’s recent credits include Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Bend It Like Beckham (Phoenix Theatre) and The Bodyguard (Adelphi Theatre). Melanie Bright has recently appeared in Les Misérables (Queen’s Theatre), Tommy (English Theatre Frankfurt) and We Will Rock You (UK Tour). Lizzy Connolly is currently starring alongside Harry Enfield in Once in a Lifetime at the Young Vic. Other recent credits include Vanities The Musical (Trafalgar Studios) and Xanadu (Southwark Playhouse). Steven Serlin is currently playing Jerry in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane) with other recent credits including The Infidel (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and I Can’t Sing (London Palladium). Sebastian Torkia is currently appearing in Peter and the Starcatcher (Northampton Royal & Derngate) with other credits including Travels with my Aunt (Chichester Festival Theatre), Top Hat (UK Tour) and Sweeney Todd (West Yorkshire Playhouse). Bronté Barbé’s credits include Princess Fiona in Shrek (UK Tour), Jest End (Waterloo East) and Cool Rider (Lyric Theatre). Tiffany Graves’ many theatre credits include Kiss Me Kate (Opera North), The Producers (UK Tour), Piaf (Curve Theatre, Leicester), Wonderful Town (UK Tour) and Sweet Charity (Menier Chocolate Factory).
As previously announced, Frances Ruffelle will play Queenie. Frances is perhaps best known for originating the role of Eponine in Les Misérables in the West End and on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for her performance. Her many other stage roles include Dinah in the original company of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express (West End), Roxie Hart in Chicago (West End), Frastrada in Pippin (Menier Chocolate Factory) and the title role in Piaf (Leicester Curve).