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The Wild Party

Production dates: April 13, 2000 - June 11, 2000
Venue: Virginia Theatre, Broadway
Directed by: George C. Woolfe
Literature: Michael John LaChiusa
Written by: George C. Woolfe

"The Wild Party" tells the story of one wild evening in the Manhattan apartment shared by Queenie (Toni Collette) and Burrs (Mandy Patinkin), a vaudeville dancer and a vaudeville clown. In a relationship marked by vicious behavior and recklessness, they decide to throw a party to end all parties. As the guests arrive, we meet an assortment of people living on the edge. Queenie and Burrs set out to make each other jealous, but Queenie begins to fall in love with her conquest named Black.

Cast & Characters

Toni Collette (Queenie), Mandy Patinkin (Burrs), Yancey Arias (Black), Nathan Lee Graham (Phil D’Armano), Adam Grupper (Gold), Leah Hocking (Mae), Eartha Kitt (Dolores), Marc Kudisch (Jackie), Norm Lewis (Eddie Mackrel), Michael McElroy (Oscar D’Armano), Brooke Sunny Moriber (Nadine), Sally Murphy (Sally), Tonya Pinkins (Kate), Jane Summerhays (Miss Madelaine True), Stuart Zagnit (Goldberg)

Production Notes

“The Wild Party” opened at the Virginia Theatre on April 13, 2000 after 36 previews, and closed on June 11 after 68 performances. It was directed by Wolfe and choreographed by Joey McKneely. The cast included Toni Collette (making her Broadway debut) as Queenie, Mandy Patinkin as Burrs, and Yancey Arias as Black. Although her role was reduced over the course of workshop productions, Eartha Kitt, returning to Broadway after an absence of more than twenty years, garnered notice for her performance as Dolores. The four were backed by a large ensemble cast, all of whom had a featured song or other moments to shine within the context of the main plot. Ben Brantley of the New York Times called it “a parade of personalities in search of a missing party… what has wound up on the stage is a portrait of desperation that itself feels harshly, wantonly desperate.” CurtainUp said, “Overall, it adds up to a polished theatrical entertainment, with a distinctive edginess,” and Talkin’ Broadway described it as ” a dark, sensual, and glittering musical. LaChiusa has written several tuneful, witty, and character driven songs, which George C. Wolfe has expertly arranged and staged around the narrative provided by the source material; an interesting story gets told in appealing music and believable dialogue.”

Collette landed the role of Queenie, an untamed but self-critical party girl, after Vanessa Williams, who workshopped the part, dropped out when she discovered she was pregnant. “I met George and thought he was the most insane,fascinating person,” Collette remembered in an interview with Paper Magazine. “I hadn’t been in a theater in so long. Igot goose bumps being there and listening to the music.” And, apparently, from the prospect of performing live – Collette, who began acting in Australia in her teens, hasn’t done theater in years. “I’m petrified,” she confesses with a mockshudder. “But that excites me.” Wolfe doesn’t share her qualms. He first considered casting her because word around town had it that her singing voice was so strong that director Sam Mendes had wanted her to star in Cabaret. “It was so instantaneous,” Wolfe says of the audition. “Toni came in, sang and it was perfect. It was like one of those bad movie moments. Toni has the edge, the charm, the intelligence, the style and the sexiness that this role requires.” For her debut on Broadway, Collette won a Theatre World Award and was nominated as Leading Actress in a Musical for a 2000 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award.

Awards & Nominations

The Wild Party

  Theatre World Award – Outstanding Actress
☆   Tony Award – Featured Actress