Here’s the good news: Mandy Patinkin, Toni Collette and Eartha Kitt are all expected to be in tonight’s performance (April 5) of The Wild Party at Broadway’s Virginia Theatre. The bad news is that the matinee has been canceled to allow more rehearsal time for the full cast. A statement by the producers cited “cast illnesses and absences” as the reason for the cancellation, with the extra rehearsal hours seen as important in getting the musical ready for its opening next week.
Though previews for the musical began March 10, the show has rarely had its three stars on the boards at the same time. Patinkin, known for his thrillingly theatrical vocal extremes, returned to the company March 28 following 13 days of doctor-ordered vocal rest. A cold kept Collette out of the show last week, as well as April 3 and 4.
The March 16 performance was canceled due to Patinkin's vocal strain, allowing David Masenheimer time to rehearse the lead role of brutal vaudevillian Burrs, whose love interest is a chorine named Queenie, played by Academy Award nominee Collette.
The lovers are at the center of the LaChiusa-George C. Wolfe retelling of the Jazz Age verse poem by Joseph Moncure March (1928's "The Wild Party").
Official opening for The Public Theater production is still April 13. It’s the second New York musical of this season to be based on a 1928 poem that few heard of before 1999. Composer-lyricist LaChiusa wrote the libretto with Wolfe (who directs), drawing on the narrative poem by March, who imagined a debauched Jazz Age party populated by playboys, show folk, drinkers, gangsters and hosts Queenie (a sex-driven chorine) and Burrs (her lover and a brutal vaudeville clown).
At Off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club, composer-lyricist librettist Andrew Lippa's version, also called The Wild Party, opened February 24 to mixed reviews but packed houses and strong audience response. It will run through April 9 but not move to Broadway, despite producers who were waiting in the wings to move it. A cast recording of the MTC staging is expected.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not, considering the source material), both shows have an opening number called "Queenie Was a Blonde," which is the opening line of the poem.
Collette was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Sixth Sense." Angelina Jolie took the prize March 26.
Tickets are $25-$85. The Virginia is at 245 W. 52nd St. in Manhattan. For information, call (212) 239-6200.