A straight take on a camp classic in Theatre in the Park's Psycho Beach Party | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

A straight take on a camp classic in Theatre in the Park's Psycho Beach Party 

Preston Campbell, Katie Bottomley and Joe Kessler in "Psycho Beach Party"

Photo courtesy of Theatre in the Park

Preston Campbell, Katie Bottomley and Joe Kessler in "Psycho Beach Party"

Now we know: Psycho Beach Party, the (usually) gender-bending comedy, can be staged without a single cross-cast role. But when a production like the current run at Theatre in the Park does that to the work of Charles Busch, the celebrated cross-dressing actor and playwright of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and The Lady in Question, it tends to erase an entire level of inquiry and critique involving classic sex-role representations in popular culture.

Besides, let's face it, it's nowhere nearly as much fun. In the original production of this loony beach movie/slasher flick combo, Busch played the central role of Chicklet, a spunky surfer girl wannabe who's sporting a few more split personalities than the average high-school geek, and another man played her street- and surf-wise companion, Marvel Ann. Since then, a number of iterations have made Chicklet's mom, Mrs. Forrest, a killer-queen tribute to what's labeled as the Joan Crawford character in the script, with rewarding results.

But the relative restraint with which Ira David Wood IV directs Sandi Sullivan in the role here not only cheats its comic potential, it fails to connect all of the dots concerning how Chicklet got so psychologically screwed up in the first place. In that role, the only way out is over the top.

After the eye-catching beach dance choreography of Jade Carlisle (and the solo aerial dance pole moves of Amanda Longo), individual performances repeatedly seemed smaller than the TIP stage on Saturday night. Exceptions included Preston Campbell's turn as self-styled surfing guru Kanaka, Lorelei Mellon's take on Chicklet's best friend (and budding existentialist) Berdine, and Dale Sander's rewarding cameo as '60s singer Chubby Checker on a bender. While Kelly McConkey convinced us as Chicklet, she wasn't as persuasive under Wood's direction when she took on the role of her monstrous alter ego, mankiller Ann Bowman.

The result leaves Psycho Beach Party an underinflated beach ball: a colorful bauble, but one that tends to plop where it's supposed to bounce.

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I have used Cyberhacklove@gmail.com quite a number of times and they have never disappointed me.They helped me monitor my Spouse …

by Susan Mark on A moribund society makes a stately exodus in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at Deep Dish Theater (Theater)

Cyberhackinglord is the real hacker out there, please be careful of imposters. they are somany hackers who claim to be …

by Mary Austin on A Lloyd Webber revival at Hot Summer Nights (Theater)

Should you ever require the services of a hacker, i implore you to try your very best to hire only …

by Nyomi Durani on Old time music in Sanford (Theater)

Should you ever require the services of a hacker, i implore you to try your very best to hire only …

by Teresa Mccarthy on A moribund society makes a stately exodus in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at Deep Dish Theater (Theater)

Best wishes & thanks to a fine artist & a real gentleman.

by khoragos on Paul Frellick Diagnoses Deep Dish Theater Company’s Lasting Legacy and Quiet Demise (Theater)

Comments

I have used Cyberhacklove@gmail.com quite a number of times and they have never disappointed me.They helped me monitor my Spouse …

by Susan Mark on A moribund society makes a stately exodus in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at Deep Dish Theater (Theater)

Cyberhackinglord is the real hacker out there, please be careful of imposters. they are somany hackers who claim to be …

by Mary Austin on A Lloyd Webber revival at Hot Summer Nights (Theater)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation