The Bohemian Theatre Ensemble's dazzling production of Andrew Lippa's underrated 2000 musical is sexy, violent, melancholy, rapturous, and simply fun. The book, based on Joseph Moncure March's scandalous 1928 poem (which was banned in Boston), tells the story of a debauched Jazz Age party thrown by the vaudeville artist Queenie to provoke her explosive lover, Burrs. The firecracker cast, directed by Stephen M. Genovese with musical direction by A. Scott Williams and Fosse-inspired choreography by Brenda Didier, seduces us with a fluid rendering of the jazzy, bluesy, and gospel-tinged score, finding the poignant centers of characters devoted to booze, sex, and drugs. Jess Godwin and Anthony Fett play Queenie and Burrs with a prickly charm, Ty Perry is gravely dignified as Mr. Black, and Jennifer Jordan Rhoads is sharply funny as a romance-deprived lesbian. This is one party that shouldn't be missed. Through 8/13: Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8:30 PM. Stage Left Theatre, 3408 N. Sheffield, 773-791-2393. $20.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jessica Pinkous.