The Rainbow Theatre Project presents Charles Busch’s dark satire, Die Mommie Die!, as the second of six concert readings scheduled for its inaugural season. Directed by Chris Griffin, Die! plays at Source in Washington, D.C. on Monday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m., and will be preceded by a reading of Ron Burch’s short play, Romeo and Jules.
Die Mommie Die! is a comic melodrama that evokes the 1960s “grande guignol” films that featured aging stars such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Lana Turner. Ex-pop singer, Angela Andrews, is trapped in a hateful marriage with film producer Sol Sussman. Desperate to find happiness with her younger lover, an out of work TV actor, Tony Parker, Angela murders her husband with the aid of a poisoned suppository. In a plot that reflects Greek tragedy as well as Hollywood kitsch, Angela’s Elektra-like daughter, Edith, convinces Angela’s emotionally disturbed son, Lance, that they must avenge their father’s death by killing their mother. From there more murder, mayhem and hilarity ensue.
Originally staged in Los Angeles in 1999, Die Mommie Die! gained cult status within the LGBT community after a film version was released in 2003, with author Busch starring as Angela Arden, alongside such notable actors as Jason Priestly, Frances Conroy, and Natasha Lyonne. The piece later transferred back to the stage with Busch reprising his role in New York. Though revered for its camp value, Die! also garnered numerous accolades for its impressive costuming.
Producing Artistic Director, H. Lee Gable, stressed the importance of this piece in the realm of LGBT entertainment: “Drag (men dressing as and pretending to be women) has been a part of the gay community since forever. Charles Busch (following in the footsteps of Charles Ludlum) took drag beyond the idea of just a man in a dress and turned it into a legit style of theatre. In doing so, he became an icon of the gay community. I want to show the breadth of gay theatre from A to Z, and having a Charles Busch play in our line-up is mandatory.”
Director Chris Griffin is also the Artistic Director of Hope Operas, D.C.’s only serialized theatre festival premiering five new works each year while raising money for local nonprofits. He was also co-founder of the notorious “perv-punk” theatre company, Cherry Red Productions. He brings a number of veteran D.C. performers with him to fill out the roles in this ensemble. Griffin was eager to join the project.
“I’m excited to direct Die Mommie Die! for the Rainbow Theatre Project, as Charles Busch is a hero of mine. Through Hope Operas I’ve written 5 plays a la Busch with big ol’ juicy drag roles for my drag alter ego, Lucrezia Blozia,” says Griffin. “Also really excited to be part of Rainbow Theatre Project’s inaugural season and honored to be in the company of some of D.C.’s finest LGBT theatre artists.”
For more information about the Rainbow Theatre Project or to purchase tickets, visit www.rainbowtheatreproject.org.