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The Wild Party (2000 Original Broadway Cast) Cast Recording

4.2 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, May 23, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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Ever since he emerged in the 1990s as one of Broadway's brightest hopes, the young and prolific composer-lyricist Michael John LaChiusa has been charged with the undeniably Sisyphean task of revitalizing the moribund musical. Along with such Tony-nominated efforts as 1999's Marie Christine--his Americanized retelling of the Medea tragedy--LaChiusa has managed to galvanize the genre with The Wild Party. Curiously enough, Joseph Moncure March's once-banned narrative poem of Prohibition-era decadence is the basis for two vastly different musicals produced within the same season (the other being Andrew Lippa's off-Broadway show at Manhattan Theatre Club). LaChiusa's work, which was produced by the Public Theatre's visionary director George C. Wolfe (who also collaborated on the book), kick-starts the new century with a manic, many-leveled, viciously satirical portrait--both brilliantly period and postmodern--of jazz-era alienation, sketching its "sexually ambitious" and "ambi-sextrous" promenade of characters with bold, flinty strokes. In addition to the 1928 poem, it seems equally inspired by The Threepenny Opera, Stephen Sondheim's dark humors, even Ann Douglas's cultural history, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s. LaChiusa depicts the party-turned-nightmare trajectory of the story through complex, polystylistic counterpoint, as well as such searingly straightforward numbers as "After Midnight Dies"; even the orchestrations (by Bruce Coughlin) are fantastically detailed and allusive. Mandy Patinkin is made to draw on his full repertory of shticks and gives a wildly over-the-top characterization of the vaudeville clown Burrs, while Toni Collette (an Oscar nominee for The Sixth Sense), playing his unhappy lover Queenie who throws this mother of all parties, plays against him with toxic, combustible energy. For all the star turns here (including some economical but superbly effective cameos by Eartha Kitt), it's the unflappable ensemble that keeps this party going till the bitter end. --Thomas May
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 23, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: May 23, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B00004T9VJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,584 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Because of my limited tolerance of Mandy Patinkin I decided to purchase Andrew Lippa's musicalization of Joseph Moncure March's poem and instantly fell in love with it. After a few months, I purchased the LaChiusa version and tried to give it a chance. After one listen, I too quickly concluded LaChiusa's version was tedious with no real melodic hooks like those that percolate throughout Lippa's score.
But then I read March's poem.
It became immediately clear that LaChiusa did the better job of capturing March's piece with the jazz-infused music of the era and characterizations of the many partygoers in the poem. (For example, whereas Lippa turned Jackie into a silent chorus boy of a dancer, LaChiusa gives us the charming drunk that March wrote. However, Lippa has assembled a talented cast of singers, particularly Julia Murney's "Queenie" and the wonderful Brian Darcy James fleshing out Burrs (how it would have been great to hear him sing LaChiusa's version instead of the always frustrating though talented Patinkin!) And few if any will argue with Alex Korey's delivery of Lippa's "An Old Fashioned Love Story"; it's simply perfection.)
In addition to "...Old Fashioned...", Lippa's version features a well sung and thoroughly infectious score ("Queenie was a Blonde", "Raise the Roof", "Life of the Party", "Maybe I Like it That Way", "What Is It About Her", "Poor Child", "How Did We End Up Here?" and the aforementioned "Old Fashioned..." all stunners.) But after I listened to LaChiusa's version a few times (and I'll admit that it took a few listens, reading the excellent lyrics along the way) I have grown to love the Broadway (LaChiusa) score.
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Format: Audio CD
I saw this version of THE WILD PARTY on the first night of previews and was disappointed. The score and cast were strong, but the book and direction (at least then) was lacking. I am sure that they have improved it since then. I bought the CD and have found it very enjoyable. The score is melodic and interesting. The cast is all top-notch, with Toni Collette, Marc Kudish, Brooke Sunny Moriber, and Norm Lewis standing out to me. "Stars" Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt make this one even more popular. This recording shows that the score was never the problem. I highly recommend this CD.
As a side note, there was another musical version of THE WILD PARTY in New York this season. That version, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, played Off-Broadway and also had a very strong score. The CD of that version comes out in July and is also highly recommended. Have fun comparing the two.
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Format: Audio CD
Anybody interested in modern musical theater needs to listen to "The Wild Party." The brilliant score by Michael John LaChiusa is a true ground-breaker. You've never heard anything quite like it. The first time I listened to it, I didn't know exactly what to make of it-- LaChiusa is far from a traditional musical theater composer. After a few listens, though, it just "clicks," and suddenly you realize that this is exactly what musical theater should be-- daring, exciting, and intelligent. This album has become my most-listened-to cast recording of the last five years.

The musical mainly takes place over the course of one long evening, during a party thrown by vaudeville performers Queenie (Toni Collette, striking in her Broadway debut) and her abusive boyfriend Burrs (Mandy Patinkin, never better). As the various misfits, wannabes, and wash-ups congregate at their apartment, the stage is set for a wild night of booze, drugs, and sex. Of course, with those ingredients, things are bound to get out of hand, and they do. Danger lurks under the surface, and the revelry quickly gives way to something more sinister. This is a "dark" musical, no question, and LaChiusa is honest in his depiction of the uglier sides of human nature. That's not to say the show's a downer-- LaChiusa infuses a lot of humor, and ultimately, hopefulness comes out of all the debauchery.

One of the real pleasures of the album is how completely transporting it is-- LaChiusa's music (terrifically orchestrated by Bruce Coughlin) evokes the jazzy 20's (while still feeling modern) and moves at such a breathless pace that you can't help but get swept along by its reckless energy.
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Format: Audio CD
Ordinarily when I don't feel moved to post a review immediately upon getting something (book, game, CD, movie), that thing will go unreviewed by me. Not so Michael John LaChiusa's THE WILD PARTY. I've had it for the entire summer, and not a day has gone by without one of the melodies popping up in my head.
The haunting quality is what distinguishes this work from Andrew Lippa's recent show of the same name. (Read further reviews if you need that situation explained to you.) While Lippa's songs are immediately extractible and perhaps more engaging than LaChiusa's complex and heavy numbers, their appeal is far more limited. LaChiusa's score is as dark as the material demands, with even the fun numbers laced with a sense of foreboding and given real purpose in tracing the descent of the characters into tragedy.
The comic and tragic aspects of the story are adeptly handled by the cast. Toni Colette was given a great deal of attention in her Broadway musical debut, and deservedly so; not only is her singing flawless, but she managed to be the center of attention as necessary when the stage also contained Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt. Both of these performers, needless to say, were terrific, with Kitt taking particular honors for her delivery of her two solos. Patinkin comes across better on disc than he did on stage, where the shallowness of his character was a more serious liability. ("Burrs" is the only character who I found to be richer in the Lippa version; in the LaChiusa he lacked the sense of pathos that might have made us care more about his fate.)
These flaws aside, this WILD PARTY is one which sounds terrific on first listen and only gets better. It should be ranked high among the best scores of the past twenty years.
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