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John Kinzer
Department of Theatre and Drama

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IU Theatre & Drama hosts ‘Wild Party’

Oct. 21, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As part of its 75th anniversary year festivities, Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Theatre and Drama presents Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party, a risqué piece of musical theater that captures the spirit and sensuality of the Roaring Twenties.

Sex, drugs and booze fill some of the tamer parts of this play, which is based on a 1928 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March. Party is directed and choreographed by Emmy Award-winning IU Professor of Theatre and Drama George Pinney, head of IU's Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Musical Theatre.

The Wild Party is a not-so-typical spurned lover story: Showgirl Queenie (Ariel Simpson) throws a party designed to make her abusive lover Burrs (William Angulo), jealous through her relationship with Black (Russell Stout). The resulting cavalcade of drugs, alcohol and promiscuity driven by a fresh score rocket the musical to its dangerous climax.

"The Wild Party"

A scene from "The Wild Party," performed by IU's Department of Theatre and Drama.

Print-Quality Photo

March's narrative poem "The Wild Party" inspired two musicals more than 70 years after the poem's original publication. In February 2000, Lippa's musical opened off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club -- just two months before a similar musical by John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe was scheduled to premiere on Broadway in April at the Virginia Theatre. Of the two versions, Pinney said he was more drawn to Lippa's deft blending of 1920s jazz with contemporary sounds and the more accessible musical score.

"Lippa's book is a strong reflection of the poem with a contemporary eye in the music," Pinney said. "They both celebrate the degradation of humanity. I hope that audience members are shocked by what they see and take it as a warning sign."

John Kinzer, director of audience development for the IU Department of Theatre and Drama, warns that because of overt sexuality and drug use, The Wild Party is for mature audiences.

"We defer to individuals and families to make their entertainment choices," Kinzer said. "We've learned that a movie-like rating does not serve live theatre well. Therefore, we like to inform our audiences about content concerns: Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party includes depiction of sexual activity, drug use and alcohol use. While we stop short of completely disrobing, there are scantily clad performers in this show. As George Pinney said, 'We do it all. It's a wild party.'"

The Wild Party opens Friday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances also begin at 7:30 p.m. and take place Oct. 25 and Oct. 28-Nov. 1, all at the Wells-Metz Theatre in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center (7th and Jordan) in Bloomington, Ind. There will be an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 1. Ticket prices are: $20 for adults, $15 for 30-and-under/students/senior citizens; Student Rush Tickets, $12 cash with valid IU Bloomington student ID, are available the day of each performance. Group prices are available.

For ticket information, call 812-855-1103 and ask for information about Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center tickets. Tickets are on sale now at the IU Auditorium Box Office, through Ticketmaster at 812-333-9955, or online at

For a listing of more of IU Theatre and Drama's 75th anniversary events, see: