Die, Mommie, Die! Review - Finally, a Truly Dysfunctional Family

Playwright Charles Busch’s campy noir classic is a rollicking comedy about a dysfunctional Hollywood family where murder seems to be a viable option. Busch wrote and starred in the film version of DIE, MOMMIE, DIE!, for which he received the Best Performance Award at the Sundance Film Festival. As an actor and author, Busch has achieved status and fame. Directed by award-winning Ryan Bergmann, DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! has been brought back to the stage.

Drew Droege as Angela and Andrew Carter as Tony - Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

Aging – dare I say has-been – film star Angela Arden (Drew Droege) wants to spend her twilight years with hunky, young Tony (Andrew Carter). Only one thing stands in her way – her husband Sol (Pat Towne), a sleazy movie producer with hidden deals (and debts) all over Tinsel Town.  Another possible inconvenience might be her children, Edith (Julanne Chidi Hill) and Lance (Tom DeTrinis). Angela has a very close – really close – relationship with pops. It’s pretty clear that Lance is momma’s boy.

Drew Droege, Julanne Chidi Hill, and Pat Towne - Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

Set in Beverly Hills in 1967, DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! draws the audience into the elegant lifestyle of the Hollywood elite, courtesy of the satirical eyes of Busch and the talented comedic cast, who are probably having the time of their life portraying these perfectly shallow and egotistical characters to the max. In fact, both lines and body language joined to create an uproarious picture of life (and death) in Beverly Hills.  

Drew Droege and Tom DeTrinis - Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

Getting back to the point. Angela finally manages to off Sol in a highly creative way. She doesn’t expect her children to react – but react they do. Revenge becomes the order of the day while housekeeper Bootsie (Gina Torrecilla) watches the goings-on from the side lines. That is, until she gets into the center of things. Twists and turns ensue, all clever and original. If you want to know what happens, you’ll just have to see the play.

Julanne Chidi Hill and Gina Torrecilla - Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

Pete Hickok’s scenic design is elegant, and a few audience members get to sit on a pair of on-stage sofas. Matthew Brian Denman’s lighting, Allison Dillard’s over-the-top costumes, Rebecca Kessin’s sound, and Michael O’Hara’s property design create the perfect environment for the play. Ryan Bergmann helms the cast with a sure hand. Last but far from least, this is a very funny and talented bunch of actors, each with special idiosyncratic moves which bring that extra inch to the character portrayed. Drew Droege couldn’t be more camp as the cunning Angela.  He is ably supported by a team of frenetic actors who manage to keep the ball rolling in every direction at once.  Laughter abounds, as it should in this very-far-from-reality production. At least, let’s hope that it’s far from reality.

Drew Droege and Pat Towne - Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! runs through March 26, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Celebration Theatre is located at 6760 Lexington Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Tickets range from $25 to $40. For information and reservations, call 323-957-1884 or go online.          

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