By Jada Butler
Post Theatre Company’s (PTC) production of “Wild Party,” the musical, explores the hardships of love.
Set in the 1920s, “Wild Party” tells the story of a vaudeville dancer named Queenie, played by sophomore musical theater major Madison Hansmeyer, and her violent lover, a vaudeville clown named Burrs, played by sophomore musical theater major Michael Krebs.
When their relationship becomes too much for Queenie to handle, she decides to “throw a party to end all parties” and make a change in her life. Jealousy, violence, love and hate are themes that arise throughout the wild night.
The show comes together with a “swing vibe” under the direction of New York City director, Scott Ebersold, music director Kerry Prep, and choreographer Brad Landers.
Though set in the 1920s, the themes and scenarios transcend time. “‘Wild Party’ deals with a relationship that has gone terribly wrong, and in the course of the evening Queenie needs to make a choice about what she wants to do with the rest of her life,” Ebersold said.
Ebersold doesn’t want the audience to feel out of place in the 1928 setting. “I wanted to make it very immediate for a modern audience, so we have the audience on two sides of the set, and they can see each other through the set so you are always looking at someone from your own time and world while you’re watching the play,” he said.
He wanted 1928 to feel real and visceral and “in your face,” which is why the cast comes out into the audience and interacts with them throughout the show.
The story goes deeper than what is on the surface. The actors want the audience to understand the reality of some relationships, even in modern times.
Hansmeyer, who plays Queenie, said the show is more relevant than ever. “[We want to show] that women always have a choice, and that people always have a choice, and that a relationship can get messy no matter what year it is,” she said. “I think it’s important for people to take away how important every choice can be, no matter how small it feels in a moment, and that it’s never too late to get out of something,” she continued.
Krebs, who plays Burrs, described his character as the “villain” of the show. “He’s the person who has a devil on his shoulder constantly.
While he’s in a relationship with Queenie, he’s very abusive over her, controlling. He doesn’t have a sense of his personality, and with that he sort of drives her away,” Krebs said.
It’s difficult for Krebs to portray the abusive half of a relationship, something he’s never had to experience in himself.
“But at the end of the day, when you trust that other person you’re working with, everything sort of works out,” Krebs said.
There’s a love square that goes on in the show between Queenie, Burrs, Black, and Kate. Black, played by Gabriel Amato, senior musical theater major, is a sly, smooth-talking man from Chicago who comes to New York and ends up at Queenie’s party. Throughout the play, Queenie falls in love with Black, and that’s where the trouble begins.
Kate, played by Anna Gwaltney, a junior musical theater major, is a prostitute and the “wild child” of the group. “She’s loud, bold and brassy and is the ‘life of the party’ as she says so herself,” Gwaltney said.
But Kate has an inner conflict that makes her one of the most relatable characters, according to Gwaltney.
“The truth is that she is very lonely and desperately wants to be loved by anyone she can find, and she takes an interest in Burrs,” she said.
On the surface, Kate is positive and bold, but there is a moment in the show where the audience can see what goes on inside her mind. “It’s really just a front. I think that resonates with a lot of people,” Gwaltney said.
Amato believes there are many lessons to take away from the show.
“I hope [the audience] takes away the right way to love someone, the wrong way to love someone, and the fun way to love someone,” he said. “There’s a lot of variations of relationships and human interaction. It can get raunchy, it can get deadly, and it can get really heartfelt.”
“Wild Party” will run for two weeks in the Little Theater Mainstage, starting Friday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
There will also be performances on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28 to Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $12 for senior citizens, and $10 for students and PTC members. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at tix55.com/ptc700.