As ambitious as it is, "The Wild Party" comes off as day two of a nonstop rave … and your buzz is crashing.
The Andrew Lippa musical is the opening show of the Boca Raton-based Outre Theatre Company's inaugural season and boasts a serviceable 15-member cast and a sometimes-dazzling nine-piece band. But it is all sabotaged — from the opening bars to the closing chords — by the sound at the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center Studio Theater, which reduces every song to the aural level of a principal making morning announcements on a school public-address system.
What does come through sounds as if it might be some fine singing … in spots, here and there. The score is dark and complex, with atonal flourishes, key changes, textural shifts and rhythmic quirks. And while the dancing is robotic, you must admit the cast injects the choreography with energy, which is saying something when you realize the evening has stretched into 2 1/2 hours (if you include the 15-minute intermission).
"The Wild Party" is based on a 1928 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March and is best known as a sort of theater curio. In 2000, the same poem inspired two musicals staged in New York, one on Broadway (starring Mandy Patinkin, Toni Collette and Eartha Kitt, with music by Michael John LaChiusa) and another off-Broadway (the Lippa version, with Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs).
In what could be billed as "Passive Aggressive the Musical," the Roaring '20s-imbued show is centered on the abusive relationship between vaudeville performers Queenie (Sabrina Gore), a dancer, and Burrs (Tom Anello), a clown. Hoping to humiliate Burrs in front of his friends after a booze-fueled fight, Queenie decides to throw a party, which becomes a wake for society's civility. Among the rowdy revelers are Queenie's rival for Burrs' affections, Kate (Christina Groom), and her date, the mysterious Mr. Black (Mark Brown-Rodriguez). The double-triangle love affairs descend into a Dante's Inferno of cocaine, orgies, jealousy, betrayal and murder.
The takeaway? Ain't no party like a demimonde party. Abusive clowns are no fun. Debauchery and hedonism lead to tragedy … and production numbers. But you probably already knew all that.
"The Wild Party" runs through Dec. 9. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $35 for general admission, $25 for seniors, $20 for students and $50 for VIP seating. The Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center is at 201 Plaza Real in Boca Raton.