The University of Southern Maine’s School of Music is having a three-day party at Corthell Concert Hall on the Gorham campus. The party began Friday night and will wrap up early this evening. It’s a scandalous party, filled with sex, alcohol, drugs, profanity and violent crimes of passion.

No need to call the police, though. Plenty of parents and grandparents are in attendance. And the general public is encouraged to attend.

Every fall, USM’s School of Music stages a musical as part of its regular performance season. This year’s offering is an eyebrow-raising, adults-only staging of Andrew Lippa’s “The Wild Party.”

Those accustomed to the School of Music’s traditional performances, such as the upcoming “Joyous Sounds for a Festive Season” on Nov. 30, may be a bit shocked by “The Wild Party.” USM has a reputation for pushing the boundaries with its theatrical productions, and the School of Music’s rendition of “The Wild Party” is no exception. Expect the students to be scantily clad and pantomiming overt sexual acts.

The musical is set in the Roaring ’20s at the Manhattan apartment of Queenie (Rylee Doiron), a vaudeville dancer, and Burrs (Jeremiah Haley), a stage clown. Their volatile relationship on the skids, they decide to throw a party, each plotting ways to make the other jealous.

The partygoers represent the decadence of the jazz era. Guests include Madelaine True (Shannon Connell), a lesbian; brothers Oscar and Phil d’Armano (Daniel Beede and Jimmy McDonald), who are composers; prizefighter Eddie (Christopher Ellis), and his ditsy girl, Mae (Jericah Potvin); Jackie (Calvin Moisan), a speed driver; Dolores (Sarah Flagg), a hooker; Peggy (Justin Adams), a cross-dresser; Sam Himmel-steen (Joseph Sibley), a producer; Kate (Kelly Mosher), a social climber; and Darlene (Hillary Perry) and Nadine (Hannah Perry), underage jazz babies.

Queenie soon finds herself torn between Burrs and Mr. Black (Kyle Dennis), brought to the party by Kate, who hopes to distract Queenie so she can seduce Burrs. What ensues will change all of their lives forever.

It’s played out largely via song, paying homage to the rhythms of the jazz era with 27 musical and dance numbers, choreographed by Kelli Fantigrossi. Sultry jazz, soulful gospel and steamy Latin rhythms fuel the passion of the piece, ebbing and flowing with emotions of the characters. Conductor Edward Reichert masterfully leads the seven-member student band on piano.

The production also showcases the talents of the music school’s vocal students. Doiron, as Queenie, shows off her stylistic range, lending vocals to 19 out of the 27 songs. Co-star Haley is a powerhouse as Burrs, delivering a robust, emotion-packed performance.

Other standout vocal performances include a cheeky rendition of “Old-Fashioned Love Story” by Connell that gives new meaning to such old sayings as “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and a sweet, funny rendition of “Two of a Kind” by Ellis and Potvin.

Nonstop music, vocal showcases and well-executed dance numbers make this party one that won’t soon be forgotten.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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