Jazz & debauchery. The Wild Party launches St James switch to The Other Palace

London’s St James Theatre is officially remaned The Other Palace from February and will be a home and breeding ground for musicals at various stages of development.

First into the newly named space will be Michael John LaChiusa’s The Wild Party, directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie.

Set against a backdrop of Manhattan decadence and 1920s excess, The Wild Party tells the story of Queenie and Burrs, a showgirl and a Vaudeville clown whose relationship is marked by vicious behaviour and recklessness.

Frances Ruffelle as Queenie. Image Fern Berresford.

In an attempt to salvage their toxic union, they decide to throw a party to end all parties. The guests are a vivid collection of the unruly and the undone: a cocaine-sniffing bisexual playboy; a washed-up boxer; a diva of indeterminate age; a fresh-faced ingénue; and a handsome Valentino who catches Queenie’s roving eye.

The jazz and gin soaked party rages to a mounting sense of threat, as artifice and illusion are stripped away. But when midnight debauchery turns into tragedy, the revellers must sober up and face reality.

Based on Joseph Moncure March’s narrative poem of the same title, The Wild Party originally opened on Broadway in 2000 with a cast including Toni Collette, Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt.

The production received seven Tony Award nominations, and a Grammy Award nomination, for its composer and lyricist Michael John LaChiusa, one of the most prolific writers for the American musical stage.

Joining the previously announced Frances Ruffelle as Queenie are John Owen-Jones, Simon Thomas, Donna McKechnie, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Dex Lee, Ako Mitchell, Gloria Obianyo, Genesis Lynea, Melanie Bright, Lizzy Connolly, Steven Serlin, Sebastian Torkia, Bronté Barbé and Tiffany Graves.

Simon Thomas, Victoria Hamilton-Barrit and John Owen-Jones

Simon Thomas (Raoul in Phantom) has appeared in Legally Blonde (Savoy Theatre) and Rapunzel’s Prince in Into The Woods (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). Television credits include Drifters (Channel 4), Jonathan Creek (BBC) and Doctor Who (BBC).

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt theatre credits include: Murder Ballad, In The Heights, A Chorus Line and Gypsy (Curve Theatre, Leicester).

John Owen-Jones is best known for his performance as Jean Valjean in Les Misérabes. He has also played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera in the West End.

Donna McKechnie is best known for creating the role of Cassie in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line.

The Wild Party will mark Donna’s return to the London stage for the first time in 20 years after appearing in Follies at Drury Lane.

The Wild Party will run at The Other Palace from February 13-April 1.

Also appearing during The Other Palace’s debut season:

Murder For Two (Studio), March 2 – 18
This Joint is Jumpin’ (Studio), April 4-15.

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