As the third and final component of the Kirk Douglas Theatre’s Block Party series, I was excited to see where the content was headed next. Knowing that Charles Bush’s Die, Mommy, Die! involved a nod to the zainy melodramas of the late 60s, I was totally on board. This is one of my favorite moments in history. So much so, that I started prepping by listing to “Ultra-Lounge/Tiki Sampler.” And got really into that. But seriously, it’s a great album with a lot of variety that makes you feel totally qualified for a Mai Tai out of an extra tall tiki glass.
Anyway, I went to the show with my writer/musician/musical theatre composer friend Ben. You may remember him from my other theatre adventures; he really is the best. What’s more is he also has a big appreciation for 60s culture. He had no idea going into it that the show was a roarous comedy, so he was completely taken by surprise. We LOVED it. What a refreshing, simply fun ride at the theatre. Really, after seeing hundreds of dark dramas always out to make some type of deep political statement (and believe me, I love that) this was a really nice break! Drew Droege as the unsinkable Angela Arden, the strong female lead, is a tour de force. From his finely timed humor to every inch of his physicality, Mr. Droege’s transformation and interpretation of Angela is another level of commitment to character. I would say more, but you’d best be surprised. We also love, love, loved Tom DeTrinis as Lance, Angela’s larger than life flamboyant son. Such smart variety in his performance from vocal to physical. Every scene he was in, he made phenomenal. And the costume design truly adds to the already over-the-top humor. Angela’s ensembles are ab fab, but I saw more than one pair of men’s flairs I wanted to snag. Zing!
"Make it big, give it class, leave ‘em with a message." -Edie, reciting Sol’s motto
After the performance, I ditched Ben and stayed after to conduct a discussion with the rest of the staff regarding potential post show discussion topics for the rest of the run. As hard as we tried to search for deeper messages within the play (and we did find a few) it really just comes down to a riotous evening of theatre, full of hilarity and homage to the swing’n sixties. The way this show pokes fun at this era of film and entertainment though many iconic styles of comedy makes for an incredible ride full of laughs. It didn’t necessarily make me want to change anything substantial about myself. However as a theatre maker, I was inspired by Charles Bush’s completely individual style, and his way of bringing the things he loves best into the text of his plays. I was reminded me that, sometimes it’s ok to just write about the things you like, to honor yourself and your spirit, whether that be of the 60s the present or something totally out there.
This is definitely one of the most fun plays I’ve seen all year. If you can, get yourself to Culver City for one of your last chances to see this production. You only have a few more days to catch Die, Mommy, Die! as it closes this Sunday May 20th at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.