May 9, 2007

The Wild Party at the New Rep

And she liked her lovers violent, and vicious:
Queenie was sexually ambitious.
Now you know:
A fascinating woman, as they go.

The New Repertory has a worthwhile production of Andrew Lippa's musical, “The Wild Party”, based on the wonderful book-length poem by Joseph Moncure March.

The musical is, at once, ambitious and strangely unambitious. It's (nearly) through-sung, and it bounces in interesting ways among musical styles. Lippa tries as well to wrest a fresh plot from March's story and to repair some of the seamy blunders of March's 1920s sensibilities. The plot repairs work reasonably and are less drastic than Adam Guettel’s The Light In The Piazza , in which a central fact that the short story discloses right at the start is withheld in the play to create a tightly-wound narrative spring.

But, if you're a composer and you’re interested in The Wild Party, I'd think you'd be interested in the March's strangely syncopated meter. Lippa really doesn't seem to be, and as the night progresses he seems to lose interest in the poem. And where does this lead? March knew:

The door sprang open

and the cops rushed in.

The musical wanders somewhere else.