Original Off-Broadway Cast

The Wild Party [Lippa] [Off-Broadway]

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New Yorker writer Joseph Moncure March's novella-length poem, The Wild Party, a verse depiction of roaring '20s decadence, was published in 1928 and fell out of copyright in 1994. Soon after, it began to attract the attention of theater people, and, amazingly enough, two competing New York theater companies ended up mounting entirely different musical versions of it within two months of each other in the second half of the 1999-2000 season: The Manhattan Theatre Club opened its production at its off-Broadway house, while the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival mounted its production on Broadway. This album contains the Manhattan Theatre Club Wild Party, which was written -- book, music, and lyrics -- by Andrew Lippa. Lippa, who added some good songs to a revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown but had not previously written a full-length musical, is an eclectic composer who uses period styles as a reference. The score begins with a growling horn, recalling Duke Ellington's Jungle Band, for example, and the sound of the song "Old-Fashioned Love Story" (a tribute to lesbianism) is informed by Kurt Weill's German theater music. But Lippa does not feel constrained to maintain strict historical accuracy in his music, prominently using an electric guitar in many songs and bringing in other elements of rock and R&B. Similarly, his lyrics indulge in occasional anachronisms -- or was the term "bottom-feeding," for instance, which appears in "Out of the Blue," coined by the 1920s? As such, his Wild Party mixes the 1920s with the 1990s, which is appropriate, since its story of licentiousness and its consequences plays as well at the turn of the century as it did in the interwar period. The challenge with a show called The Wild Party that is full of sex, drugs, and violence is to address effectively its contrasting moods, and Lippa does this by taking an episodic approach. Many of the show's songs are set pieces that could be lifted out of the storyline, and they give the performers solo showcases. Julia Murney, who plays the female lead, Queenie, particularly benefits from this structure, but so does Idina Menzel, who plays Kate, a prostitute who sings the catchy act two opener, "The Life of the Party." Lippa's score is tuneful, and his handling of the material is direct, very different from LaChiusa's more abstract score and the highly stylized staging LaChiusa's director/co-librettist, George C. Wolfe, gave to the competing Broadway production. But Lippa's version of The Wild Party ultimately can't overcome the slightness of its source material and ends up being a minor, if lively, operetta in which kohl-eyed vamps and jealous men drink, love, and fight, or rather give the appearance of those things while actually singing and dancing. (The Manhattan Theatre Club's production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party opened Off-Broadway at City Center Stage I on February 24, 2000 and closed after 88 performances.)

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 5:58
2 4:02
3 3:35
4 3:12
5 2:15
6 3:51
7 3:53
8 1:17
9 5:19
10 4:02
11 2:31
12 2:59
13 2:53
14 3:26
15 2:32
16 4:10
17 3:15
18 2:47
19 2:31
20 4:14
21 4:10
blue highlight denotes track pick