by Charles Busch
click on photos
Busch, that cross dressing master of theatrical parody and satire has created
a tiny masterpiece with his play, DIE MOMMY DIE! So successful
was the play, that it was turned into a stylish award winning independent
film in 2003, with a very impressive cast.
Created as an ode to the Ross Hunter-style big screen soap operas of the late 1960’s that starred film sirens like Lana Turner or Susan Hayward, and the glossy Hitchcock type thrillers of the same period, DIE MOMMY DIE! is the story of fallen pop idol Angel Arden. When Sol Sussman, Angela’s film producer husband discovers that she’s having an affair with tennis pro/gigolo Tony Parker, she devises a fiendish way to kill him using a poisoned suppository. What follows is a hilarious off the wall mixture of whodunits and double-crossings involving the ill-fated family maid, Angela and Sol’s spoiled, vampy daughter and their boy-toy son.
Of course in the Sundance film of the play, Charles Busch himself played the role of Angela Arden. The challenge for any theatre company trying to re-create Busch’s pastiche was two-fold. First, the entire cast has to walk a virtual tightrope to parody that elusive late 60’s film style without slipping over into burlesque. Secondly, the actor who essayed the role of Angela hjad to be totally believable as a female screen Diva. OFF THE WALL THEATRE was lucky to have the talented Mark Hagen as Angela Arden. Mark is perhaps more famous on the comedy club circuit as Miss Ruthie. So hysterical are Miss Ruthie’s sly cinical observations on life, that he was recently contacted about appearing on the hit national television show, “America’s Most Talented…”
Dale Gutzman, Director of Off The Wall Theatre appeared as Angela’s boorish film producer husband, Sol Sussman. Tony Parker, gigolo, tennis pro and failed film star stud was played by Jeremy Welter. Off the Wall regular Mary Henricksen played Bootisie, the faithful family maid with a secret or two of her own. Two newcomers to Off the Wall Theatre joined the cast of DIE MOMMY DIE! Alison Mary Forbes played Edith the twisted teenage vamp with a strange father fixation, and Nate Press played Lance, the sexually promiscuous son.
This comedy riot was filled with surprises that are tributes to films of the 60’s; a hallucinatory LSD trip, a vicious female catfight, murder most foul during a thunderstorm, kitschy pop songs, steamy love scenes, blackmail, and more. Angela Arden’s stunning 60’s wardrobe for DIE MOMMY DIE! cost more than most small theatre’s allow for their entire production budget, not to mention the wigs!
Director Gutzman announced that the production was presented in “Sinemascope” and Technical Director David Roper created the perfect Hollywood Hills mansion in Off The Wall’s intimate theatre space.
This FILM NOIR COMEDY was outrageously
funny. Cheap Schlock at its very best.
Lance (Nate Press)
and Angela (Mark Hagen)
in a scene from Die Mommy Die.