It's 1928. Prohibition is in full force, but that won't stop the alcohol — or the party.

Queenie talks her lover, Burrs, into turning their apartment into a party house for one night.

What happens plays out in "The Wild Party," the edgy, R-rated production that opens Theatre Baton Rouge's City Series on Aug. 16.

"The show has language, violence, drug use, drinking and sexuality," said director Lily McGill. "You can even describe some of the characters as sexually fluid, but not in a grotesque way as in 'Rocky Horror.' It's all just a part of the story."

Jazz provides the soundtrack for the era, as well as the Andrew Lippa musical, which premiered off-Broadway in 2000.

The play, McGill said, centers on the relationship between Queenie and Burrs, played by Katelyn Gulotta and Austin Ventura.

The couple met on the Vaudeville stage, where Queenie and Burrs are both performers. Queenie has a big sexual appetite but can't find anyone to sate it until she meets the comedian Burrs.

Burrs' passion turns violent at times. And that thrills Queenie — until it doesn't.

His violent outbursts begin to scare her. She also becomes increasingly bored with the relationship, so she suggests adding spice to their lives by hosting a party.

"There are about 15 guests who come to the party," McGill said. "And it's interesting to watch how the thrill of the carefree life is wearing off of these people who have been living it."

It's also interesting to see how quickly this life grabs hold of Mr. Black, who lives quietly, working as a doorman at a club.

"Kate has grabbed Mr. Black and brought him to the party," said Marion Bienvenu, who plays her. "Kate knows him only from the club where he holds the door. He's a normal guy, and he's nervous at first. But then he gets comfortable at the party."

For Queenie, the soiree isn't working out as she'd hoped. Instead of wiping out her problems with Burr, she creates new ones by setting her sights on Mr. Black.

That cultivates even more problems when Kate realizes Queenie has pushed her out of the spotlight.

"Kate believes the world is supposed to revolve around her," said Bienvenu.

"But the world really does revolve around Queenie, and Kate doesn't like it," Gulotta added. "So Kate retaliates."

Meanwhile, the rest of the guests are engaging in their own songs, dance and drama.

"There are multiple story lines going on at one time, but that's what makes it a dream to direct," McGill said.

And, she added, a lot happens in this single, out-of-control night, that ends with a gunshot. 


'The Wild Party'

A Theatre Baton Rouge City Series production

Rated R for sexual violence and situations, drug use and language.

WHEN: Aug. 16-19, Aug. 22-25. Performances at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Theatre Baton Rouge, 7155 Florida Blvd.

TICKETS/INFO: $31; $20, students. (225) 924-6496 or theatrebr.org

Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com