Music theatre program invites audiences to a ‘Wild Party’

“I’d say ‘Wild Party’ is one of the most advanced shows we’ve ever done,” director of music theatre Victoria Bussert said of the rollicking,1920s-set production.


Austin Patterson, The Exponent

Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre will open the doors to “The Wild Party” on Nov. 9, beginning a high-spirited two-week run in the Black Box Theatre in Kleist Center for Art & Drama.  

Directed by Victoria Bussert, BW’s director of music theater, “The Wild Party” follows Queenie and Burrs, a couple who decides to throw a huge party to reintroduce excitement into their sedentary lives.  

“One of the reasons I thought it was great to do it is because there’s such extreme theatrical types,” Bussert said. “It’s set in the 1920s, but it’s definitely edgy and wild.”  

Bussert said that in order for more musical theater students to get a chance to perform in BWMT’s large-scale productions, the productions usually feature two casts. For “The Wild Party,” audiences have a chance to see either the Queenie Cast or the Kate Cast.  

Sophomore music theatre student Eileen Brady, who plays Mae in both casts, said she was very excited to work with the two casts and make essential connections with the ensemble that performs for all the shows.  

“I didn’t get that experience with the last show I was in,” Brady said. “So it’s cool to see how each person playing the same role takes a different spin on it.”  

“The Wild Party” is a spectacle-driven show that enphasizes ensemble dancing, singing and acting. However, Gracie Albus, a junior assistant stage manager, said that it is also a very heartbreaking story.   

“The show manages to have these fun crazy upbeat numbers,” Albus said, “And then also have these crazy and intense stories that weave themselves through the whole show.”  

When choosing musicals to produce in a season, Bussert said that she always aims for musicals that are lesser known and will push the actors creatively because she wants to challenge them and help them to grow in their craft.  

“I’d say ‘Wild Party’ is one of the most advanced shows we’ve ever done,” said Bussert. “It requires a level of singing, dancing and acting that is way beyond what most shows demand.”  

Brady said that she worked hard to build up her stamina for the level of singing and dancing required for “The Wild Party,” and she was excited to be given a chance to portray a character unlike any role she had played prior to this show.  

“I think I’ve kind of been typecasted as a kid a lot, so I think for me, I’ve learned that there’s more things that I can do,” Brady said. “It’s been interesting for me to start to dive into a more mature side of what I can do as an actor.”  

Because of its mature themes, Bussert said that “The Wild Party” is the first BW production to require an intimacy and fight director that helps the cast navigate through intimate and violent scenes. The mature themes explored in this performance include sex and domestic violence, among other topics.  

BWMT productions also give students on the crew a chance to use the skills they have learned in their classes, and they are challenged to grow in their discipline while working on a full-scale musical.  

“I did ‘The Wild Party’ in high school as a performer, and now I’m doing it probably five years later as a stage manager,” Albus said. “I’ve been able to see how much I’ve developed as an artist and how much my skills have developed.”  

One of the biggest challenges that all members of the company of “The Wild Party” had to face was the use of alley staging in the Black Box Theatre. In this style of staging, the audience will split the stage into two sides, forcing the actors to perform in the center of the theatre.   

Brady said that alley staging thrusts the audience into the main action of the musical because they are mere feet away from the stage and the cast. Sometimes, the cast members will also be performing from the audience.  

“It’s been cool to work in a way of making sure that you’re playing to all sides of the audience,” said Brady. “Every angle gets hit so that everybody can be included in the story.”  

Audience members will all be seated at different angles in relation to the stage; therefore, everyone will have an individual experience because what is seen by one person may not be seen by another.  

“Each performance is going to be a little different depending on where you’re sitting,” Albus said. “It invites people to come back and to see it multiple times.”  

The intimate Black Box Theatre creates a lively atmosphere in which audiences feel contained within the party, not only seeing the musical but also experiencing it.  

“I think it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime event that is very different than if we were in the bigger theater on the Mainstage,” said Bussert. “I think people need to come ready to party.”  

“The Wild Party” runs Nov. 9–13 and 16–20. General admission tickets can be purchased here