RTP’s “Psycho Beach Party” is campy as it gets and I love it
Richmond Triangle Players have presented the perfect summer fling in their darn-near perfect production of Charles Busch’s campy creation, “Psycho Beach Party.”
Chicklet, played by Brent Gallahan, is a chipper 16-year-old girl who longs to be a part of the surf culture that surrounds her.
When local surfing legend The Great Kanaka, played by Stevie Rice, agrees to take her under his wing, he soon learns that sweet naïve Chicklet has a few “aspects” of her personality, or personalities, that terrify and at the same time intrigue the laid back brah.
You see, Chicklet had a bit of a rough childhood, punctuated by tragedies and tense interactions with her at-times very overprotective mother, played by the incomparable Dan Cimo. In order to cope, Chicklet’s personalities split to protect her; the most entertaining incarnation being the dominatrix maneater, Anne Bowman.
When Anne, and the rest of Chicklet’s personalities, are finally revealed to all of Chicklet’s friends and her mother at the big Luau, Chicklet is forced to confront her demons.
There are so many amazing performances in this production. Gallahan is genius as Chicklet, besides being absolutely adorable, he is a force to be reckoned with. He commands every scene he’s in and his performance is captivating, as he seamlessly switches characters at break-neck speed.
Dan Cimo, channeling Joan Crawford, gives a terrifying performance as Chicklet’s overprotective mother, Mrs. Forrest.
Steve Rice has transformed himself into an archetypal “surfer-dude” and his portrayal of The Great Kanaka is not one to miss. Milo Pfeffer is the perfect choice to play the handsome love interest of Marvel Ann. Tall, dark and handsome, he is a joy to watch as he tries to handle Marvel Ann’s demanding ways.
Jessi Johnson exudes raw sexuality as movie star Bettina Barnes, who is visiting the beach to hide from the paparazzi. Madeline Lovegrove and Louise Keeton round out the supporting female cast with strong performances as Chicklet’s best friends, bookish Berdine and boy crazy Marvel Ann. Lovegrove is particularly charming as Chicklet’s partner in crime.
The direction by Penny Ayn Maas is precise. As far as I could tell, there was not a hair out of place. The lighting, by Michael Jarrett, the sound effects, by Joey Luck, the staging, and timing are on positively point. Alex Valentin’s costumes are simple, colorful, and fun. Frank Foster’s set compliments this wacky play perfectly, providing a lot of free space for the actors to let loose.
“Psycho Beach Party” is about as campy as it gets, and I love it! Mix in a little Frankie and Annette 60’s beach bonanza with a little “The Three Faces of Eve” and you get one hell of a fun ride. I have not stopped raving about this production to as many people that will listen.
“Psycho Beach Party” is playing at Richmond Triangle Players through August 15th.
Visit www.rtriangle.org for tickets and information.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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