“Raise the Roof”

Andrew Lippa, The Wild Party, “Raise the Roof

Amanda Castro

New York’s 1999/2000 theater season saw the highly unlikely occurrence of two new musicals based on the same source receiving their premieres within two months of each other. Prior to the Broadway premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s The Wild Party came Andrew Lippa’s show with that title, produced off-Broadway. Both shows adapted a narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March, published in 1928.

Lippa’s show presents the events of the plot all taking place within a single night, during a party exemplifying the flamboyance and sexual intrigues of 1920s Hollywood. The central female character, Queenie, is cohosting the party with her lover, Burrs, whose relationship with her is volatile. Among the guests are various women in whom Burrs seems to be taking more than a passing interest. Eager to enjoy herself to the utmost, Queenie sings what may well be musical theater’s most exuberant hymn to hedonism, “Raise the Roof,” a defiant expression of living for the moment and throwing all caution to the winds.

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Photos: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Kyle Flubacker