Advertisement

Lust, secrets, murder: Dive into the drag-rific world of 'Die, Mommie, Die!'

Lust, secrets, murder: Dive into the drag-rific world of 'Die, Mommie, Die!'
Drew Droege as Angela, left, and Andrew Carter as the tennis pro Tony in the Celebration Theatre production of "Die, Mommie, Die!" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. It's the last show in Center Theatre Group's annual Block Party. (Craig Schwartz)

Before he established himself with the Tony-nominated play "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife," Charles Busch was the undisputed king of camp, best known for cheesy B-movie parodies starring himself as leading ladies on missions of salacious self-satisfaction and murder.

That's certainly the tenor of Busch's "Die, Mommie, Die!" — the final offering of Center Theatre Group's second annual Block Party, in which three shows from smaller houses are chosen to be remounted as full productions at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

Advertisement

All those who missed the 2017 "Mommie" at the Celebration Theatre will get another bite of the apple, complete with the hidden razors of Busch's wit. Backed by CTG's resources, the Douglas production is lavishly produced in every particular.

Droege, far right, plays mother to Edith (Julanne Chidi Hill) and Lance (Tom DeTrinis) in "Die, Mommie, Die!" at the Kirk Douglas.
Droege, far right, plays mother to Edith (Julanne Chidi Hill) and Lance (Tom DeTrinis) in "Die, Mommie, Die!" at the Kirk Douglas. (Craig Schwartz)

The original design team from the Celebration — scenic designer Pete Hickok, lighting designer Matthew Brian Denman and sound designer Rebecca Kessin — deliver superb results onstage, all reveling in upgraded budgets. Allison Dillard's sumptuously tacky costumes, so garish they will have you reaching for your sunglasses in a darkened theater, are particular standouts.

Advertisement

Director Ryan Bergmann is another holdover from the original production, as is his blissfully accomplished cast, spearheaded by Drew Droege in a flouncing, uproarious drag turn that brings down the house.

The action is set in 1967 Beverly Hills in the mansion of failed musical actress Angela Arden (Droege). Angela is unhappily married to film producer Sol (Pat Towne), whose cloying relationship with their daughter, Edith (Julanne Chidi Hill), is anything but wholesome.

Bootise (Gina Torrecilla) and the object of her affection, her employer Sol (Pat Towne).
Bootise (Gina Torrecilla) and the object of her affection, her employer Sol (Pat Towne). (Craig Schwartz)

Meanwhile, Angela is carrying on with protuberant tennis pro Tony Parker (Andrew Carter), who becomes the object of lust to both Edith and Angela's gay son, Lance (Tom DeTrinis). Angela's husband Sol is adored from afar by Bootsie (Gina Torrecilla), the family's long-time, long-simmering housekeeper. When Angela decides to poison Sol, a cascade of dark family secrets comes to light — improbably, histrionically and hilariously.

In Bergmann's comically shrewd staging, never let it be said that any of these actors is guilty of a subtle gesture. Masters of the double take and double entendre, they take us on a plunge into the playfully down-and-dirty.

Advertisement

Take a deep breath before immersion. And enjoy.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

‘Die, Mommie, Die!’

Where: Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday; ends Sunday

Tickets: $25-$70

Information: (213) 628-2772 or centertheatregroup.org

Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

See all of our latest arts news and reviews at latimes.com/arts.

Advertisement

ALSO

Advertisement
Advertisement