Written by 6:04 pm Review, Santa Ana, Theater, Uncategorized

Gidget Goes Psychotic : Psycho Beach Party @ Theatre Out in Santa Ana – Review

Written by Patrick Chavis

Theatre Out is not modest about anything it does. Even its name speaks to the transparency of its shows. When directed in the right way, this can be a strength. As I nestled in my seat amongst a small audience divided into those wearing Hawaiian shirts and everyone else, I was bombarded with a scene-by-scene, in-your-face comedy that holds no punches and goes places that would make Andy Kaufman blush. With an outstanding cast and breakout performances from the two (sort of) leading ladies, Psycho Beach Party leaves you a little bamboozled. It might be the most brilliant or brainless show I’ve ever seen. Whatever I just saw, I couldn’t look away.

Story:

Psycho Beach Party is the story of a mild-mannered, slightly nerdy girl named Chicklet (Andrew J. Villarreal) trying to fit in with the beach crowd. In her quest to become more popular, Chicklet casts aside her best friend, Berdine (Alexis Stansfield), to get closer to two surfer dudes. One is legendary surf bum Kanka (played by Ben Green), and the other is Kanka’s new apprentice, Star Cat (played by Ian James). As Chicklet gets closer to her new surfer pals, the audience learns she has a deep-rooted identity disorder that causes her to unleash a myriad of different personalities at any given moment.

BACKSTORY:

Chelsea Feller (Marvel Ann), Alexis Stansfield (Berdine), Andrew J. Villareal (Chicklet)

Psycho Beach Party started as a joke title Charles Busch would tell his audiences back in the day when he performed at a theatre called the Limbo Lounge in New York City’s East Village. At the time, they had no money for advertising, so he would do a curtain speech to inspire people to sign the mailing list. He would invent fake titles off the top of his head with no intention of actually doing the plays. One night’s punch line was that the next show would be Gidget Goes Psychotic.

Gidget is the archetype for the young, wholesome Surfer Girl wanting to fit in and be a part of the surf culture, which at the time was seen as a boys’ sport. Busch’s parody title was a massive hit with the crowds despite never planning to write the show. However, Ken Elliot, his Director/Producer at the time, mentioned they had been promoting this show for years and thought it would be a great idea for a play.

Acting/Direction:

In keeping with the original production, the Gidget character in this story is named Chicklet (Andrew J. Villarreal) and is played by a man. The usual “Oh, this is a man playing a girl” jokes aren’t the main focus. We can attribute this to the performance. Villarreal’s Chicklet is phenomenal. What’s funny is not that he looks like Paul Dano in drag (though he does). Villarreal does something even well-seasoned actors have trouble doing. He truly transforms himself into this character. Every moment Villarreal is on stage is authentic and perfectly matched with onstage best friend Berdine (Alexis Stansfield).

Stansfield matches Villarreal with a performance that accurately portrays and makes fun of the naive and inner rantings of an outsider who simultaneously hates and loves the place she is in. Stansfield’s solo scenes where she unloads her thoughts are childish and funny from the audience’s perspective. But these are real things people deal with and think about.
 
Director Tito Ortiz produces a play with no frills and a dynamite cast. This is Theatre Out in top form.

Sep 18, 2015 – Oct 24, 2015

Side note: This is a show for adults. 

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My Review
8.8 Overall
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