“The Wild Party” presented by Sound Theatre Company

A wild party indeed, a jazz age bacchanal! “Wild Party,” written and composed by Andrew Lippa, is based on a 1928 poem that was banned because of its decadence. It’s definitely not a Noel Coward sort of evening. Instead it’s a highly erotic jazz opera, a mixture of Kurt Weill and “Frankie and Johnny.” And this amazingly ambitious production by a small theatre company is very well done. But note, it’s definitely for mature audiences.

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Tori Spero as Queenie with admirers

Director Corey McDaniel and his production team have pulled out all the stops. Candace Frank’s costumes marry sleaze to elegance and turn up as sexy. Richard Schaefer’s set evokes both the era and an appropriate East Side Manhattan locale, and his lighting imaginatively uses color to startle and soothe. And musical director Carl Petrillo’s small band sets the mood with its big sound and lively tempo.

The white and black, gay and straight cast is up to all the challenges of the piece, and there are many. Jessica Low’s classy yet demanding choreography requires not only good dancing but also significant acrobatics, all of which have to be executed in a space that is just a bit too small. This is a production that would have been even better had it been performed on a larger stage in a bigger theatre.

Tori Spero exudes eroticism as Queenie, the burlesque hottie whose party it is, and Troy Wagemen as her big, buff lover brings both tenderness and brutality to the role. There are so, so many good actors here, but special mention must be made of Allison Standley as Kate who wants to cut in on Queenie’s territory, and Leslie Wisdom as the lesbian with oomph.

The voices are strong individually and well blended as an ensemble. Yet, like all operas, this one would have been enhanced by a libretto or the projection of text above the stage. Too many of the words are unintelligible. But even if you can’t understand all the words, you know what’s going on, and this is a party you won’t forget.

Through August 25 at Center Theatre in the Seattle Center Armory, Tickets at http://brownpapertickets.com/event/362552 (or see www.soundtheatrecompany.org or 206 856-5520)

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