Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Psycho Beach PartyMiss Pixie's Cable Access Holiday Extravaganza"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"Psycho Beach Party"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Hovey Players current show is "Psycho Beach Party", an over-the-top comedy written in 1987 by Charles Busch who is not only a playwright but an actor who appears in many of his shows playing the female lead in drag. It might be frigid outside but it is very hot on the black box stage in Waltham. The show takes us back to Malibu Beach in 1962 and is a parody of 1950's and 1960's movies. Besides the obvious references to Gidget and similar early 60's beach movies, the show borrows from Alfred Hitchcock movies like "Marnie". Imagine Gidget crossed with "The Three Faces of Eve" and "Mommie Dearest". The show opens in a movie theatre with two teenagers necking in the front row as the movie about a female space invader taking over the brain of the President of the United States is heard, a woman behind them takes something out of her purse and hacks away at them in the darkened theatre. The audience finds out the couple had their heads and privates shaved! The heroine of the play is Chicklet, a happy-go-lucky teenage girl who has, as her sexy friend bikini clad pal, Marvel Ann tells her, the sex drive of a marshmallow." She wants to learn how to surf and join a bunch of beach bums led by the great, Kanaka, a local surfing legend. He soon discovers that Chicklet who's real name is Florence, has multiple personality disorder when he accidentally triggers her most prevalent personality by mentioning a red kite. This personality calls herself Ann Bowman, a dominatrix type who has nothing less than world domination on her mind and is a sexually voracious vixen who likes getting it on with Kanaka. Her other split personalities include a black check out girl, an elderly talk show hostess, a male model named Steve and the law firm of Edelman and Edelman. Her mother forbids Chicklet to surf because it is too dangerous and as the three surfer boys continually tell her that it is only for boys. Kanaka becomes strangely attracted to her decides to teach her how to surf in a funny segment where two boys discover they are in love with each other, the beach hunk who has dropped out of the University, kisses his muscles while flexing and Chicklet excels at surfing. Throw in her clumsy, existential best friend, Berdine, a who is secretly in love with her and constantly writes in her diary, a B-list blonde bombshell movie star and two other pals and you have the ingredients for a fun filled night of, as the theatre promo lists "Sun! Surf! Schixophrenia!" Hilariously directed by Mark Sickler, these 11 cast members thrill you with their campy portrayals of characters from yesteryear with a few hilarious twists and turns along the way. His expertise in directing comes through with his 13 years of professional and local productions in the greater Boston area and in NYC.

The show hilariously upends constricting notions of "normal" teenage American life peddled by Hollywood in the 50's and 60's. The revelation of Chicklet's personality disorder comes at the Luau at the end of the summer party where Star Cat, the muscle bound guy that she really is in love with hypnotizes her, finding out a traumatic incident when she was 7 years old sparked her descent into this condition. Teresa McNamara, a pretty blond is excellent and plays this demanding role, making the metamorphose from simpering Chicklet into a raging, foul-mouthed dominatrix who proclaims herself empress of the world with ease. Her hilarious performance captures the hearts of the audience as they come to understand why these incidents happen to her. Her Joan Crawford type of a mother, Mrs. Forrest is wonderfully portrayed by Kami Crary, an Emerson College graduate, who bounds and gags her daughter in one of the funniest scenes of the show. Mrs. Forrest catches her with these surfer bums, forbids her from going to the luau. She and Berdine have a tug of war with Chicklet when she wants them to perform their Siamese twins segment for it. Stephanie Haddad plays the sympathetic best friend, Berdine who gives Chicklet the $25 to buy a surf board who likes to quote well known philosophers including Sartre. The Frankie Avalon type hunk is well played by Jason Fenton who gets to show off his buff physique but shows he is a wonderful actor at the same time. He reveals that his real name isn't Star Cat but Herbert Mullin who is a psychology major at the University and dispenses watered-down Freudian tidbits. The boy crazy, Marvel Ann is wonderfully played by Maryellen Mitrano, a lovely brunette while the surfing legend who gets mistreated by Ann Bowman when she pulls his chest hair after scolding him for some transgression is given a top notch portrayal by Mike James. The light in their loafer surfer boys, Provoloney and Yo-Yo are hilariously played by Anthony DiBartolomeo and Bill DeRusha. The surfing dance where they do sexual gyrations when they fall off their surfboards leads to many laughs and their future pronouncement about taking to the streets to talk about discrimination against homosexuality in the future, meaning current day, is a strong statement from the author. The sexy bombshell, Bettina, a Marilyn Monroe type, is played by Lauren Hill who also choreographed the show. Her dances including the surf number culminates with the cast performing "Beach Blanket Bingo" in the audience. Lauren shows off her acting talent when she receives a telegram from the studio, changing into a tough talking broad from her Betty Boop talk. Rounding out the cast are Scott Jason Cohen and Elizabeth Zaino. So for a fun filled evening to take your mind off this horrible winter weather, be sure to catch "Psycho Beach Party" in the blackbox theatre at Hovey Players. Kudos to all the cast and crew who make this an entertainment to be proud of. Donations to the charity during this show is Community Servings.

"Psycho Beach Party" (16 - 31 January)
THE HOVEY PLAYERS
@ Abbott Memorial Theater, 9 Spring Street at Joel's Way, WALTHAM MA
1 (781) 893-9171

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