In 2000, the New York theatre scene got a pretty rare ocurrence: not one, but two separate original musicals with separate writing and creative teams, but both based on the same source material. Joseph Moncure March's narrative poem "The Wild Party" became the basis of two musicals — a Broadway version with a score by Michael John LaChiusa, and an Off-Broadway version by Andrew Lippa.
Lippa's edition began its life with a reading at the O'Neill Theatre Center in 1999. A year later, the work opened Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, going on to enjoy a run of 54 performances. Though the initial run was brief, its fans in the theatre community were passionate. A cast recording was made and released after the production closed, and The Wild Party became a popular show for colleges and amateur groups to produce.
This week, The Wild Party returns to New York for the first time since its premiere. The final entry of Encores! Off-Center series, the new production stars Sutton Foster, Steven Pasquale, Brandon Victor Dixon and Joaquina Kalukango. Read what Sutton Foster has to say about playing Queenie here!
But what about the original Off-Broadway cast? Get caught up with what they've been up to over the last 15 years with this edition of Where Are They Now: The Cast of Lippa's Wild Party!
(Swing, Cop, Burrs Understudy)
Though he is most famous for playing a fireman on TV's "Rescue Me," Steven Pasquale has always been a stage actor first. He understudied the role of Burrs in The Wild Party and went on to appear in The Spitgire Grill, Man of No Importance and the Seattle world premiere of The Light in the Piazza before heading to TV land. Recently, he's returned to the stage with appearances in Far From Heaven, The Bridges of Madison County and Carousel at Lyric Opera Chicago, the latter of which he played opposite Laura Osnes in a performance that was broadcast on radios nationwide. In a real full-circle moment, Pasquale returns to the stage in The Wild Party, taking on the role of Burrs for the Encores! Off-Center production. Read Playbill's Cue & A with Pasquale here.
Alix Korey (Madelaine True)
Alix Korey got to deliver one of Wild Party's more memorable numbers, "An Old Fashioned Love Story." After her time with Wild Party, Korey appeared in Wonderful Town and The New Moon at Encores!, and she created the role of Mayor Matilda Hyde in All Shook Up on Broadway. After spending some time as a musical theatre professor at CAP 21, Korey decided to make the West Coast her homebase, but she hasn't stopped performing. Most recently, she appeared in the first stage version of An American in Paris at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, TX.
Felicia Finley (Rose Himmelsteen, Queenie and Kate understudy)
After Wild Party, Finley moved to Broadway, appearing as Amneris in Aida and creating the role of Linda in The Wedding Singer. Most recently she played a three-year stint as Tanya in Mamma Mia, leaving the production this past February.
Jennifer Cody (Maye)
Jennifer Cody, known better as Jen Cody, is one of Broadway's favorite (and tiniest) funny ladies. After Wild Party she appeared on Broadway in the ensembles of Seussical, Taboo, The Pajama Game and Shrek the Musical. She also created the role of Little Becky Two Shoes in Urinetown The Musical. She's also found success regionally, playing such roles as Hildy in On the Town (at the Paper Mill Playhouse) and Grandma in The Addams Family (at St. Louis's MUNY). Perhaps most prominently, Cody provided the voice for the hilarious Charlotte La Bouff in Disney's 2009 animated movie "The Princess and the Frog."
Taye Diggs (Black)
Taye Diggs first rose to prominence creating the role of Benny in Rent, where he met his Wild Party co-star (and former wife) Idina Menzel. After Wild Party closed, Diggs' career in film and television took off. He soon was playing roles on such TV shows as "Ally McBeal," "Will & Grace" and "Private Practice." He has also been in such movies as "The Best Man," "Baggage Claim," "Chicago," "Rent" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." He's been no stranger to the stage, however. On Broadway, he's appeared as Fiyero in Wicked and Billy Flynn in Chicago. Beginning July 22, Diggs will be back on Broadway yet again appearing as the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Brian d'Arcy James (Burrs)
When Brian d'Arcy James created the role of Burrs in The Wild Party, his status as a Broadway leading man was on the rise; he'd had several Broadway credits and made quite a splash singing Barrett's Song in Titanic. After Wild Party, he was Tony nominated for his performance as Sidney in Sweet Smell of Success. He showed his comedic abilities replacing Norbert Leo Butz as Freddy Benson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and also created the title role in Shrek the Musical in 2008, earning another Tony Award nomination. Currently, James is appearing nightly at the St. James Theatre as Nick Bottom in Something Rotten!, a performance that earned him his third Tony Award nomination.
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Julia Murney (Queenie)
Julia Murney met Andrew Lippa when she auditioned for a Stephen Schwartz revue Lippa was music directing. He also happened to be planning a reading for The Wild Party, and immediately thought of Murney for Queenie. This would turn out to be especially fortuitous for Murney, as she ended up creating the role of Queenie Off-Broadway in The Wild Party and later became the leading lady of a Stephen Schwartz musical, appearing as Elphaba in Wicked both on tour and Broadway. More recently, Murney has appeared Off-Broadway at the York in Closer Than Ever and at St. Louis's MUNY in Shrek, where she played Princess Fiona. She also performs with orchestras frequently. Her concert "The Wizard and I: The Musical Journey of Stephen Schwartz," was recently presented in Omaha, NE.
Idina Menzel (Kate)
Idina Menzel provided Wild Party's biggest star power; she'd already made a name for herself creating the role of Maureen in the original production of Rent. After Wild Party, Menzel was a replacement Amneris in Aida on Broadway. Soon thereafter, she began the development process for Wicked, in which she went on to create the role of Elphaba on Broadway and win a Tony Award for her performance.
Menzel has largely been splitting her time between stage and film work since Wicked, appearing Off-Broadway in Michael John LaChiusa's See What I Wanna See and voicing the character of Elsa in "Frozen." Most recently, Menzel was Tony-nominated for her performance as Elizabeth in If/Then. It was recently announced that she will reprise her performance for several stops of the show's national tour as well.