by tim parks –
What do you have, when you combine a washed-up Hollywood maven wanting to resurrect her career, her distant husband, a well-endowed on-the-side lover and two horrible children?
Well, if you add a splash of film noir, a dash of camp and a big heaping teaspoon of strong female lead, then you have the perfect recipe for a night out at the theatre.
Die, Mommie, Die! is based on the 2003 film written by and starring Charles Busch and follows the trials and tribulations of Angela Arden, offering a big nod to film classics like Dead Ringer with Bette Davis and is equal part spoof and homage.
The Rage Monthly, spoke with actor Drew Droege about stepping into the pumps of Busch’s Angela Arden and Director Ryan Bergmann about helming the project. First, here’s a little history on how the duo ended up in the entertainment industry:
Droege first found solace in acting, during his high school years. “That’s when I realized that I was outside of myself; it was a typical, shy kid thing,” he said. “I was always funnier at school than at home. That’s when I realized I had a bug for it and I loved how confident I was when I was on stage. I realized that you could be funny and less bullied or ostracized, and I learned how to do that pretty quickly.”
Bergmann also caught the acting bug, but shifted into directing for theatre and has done numerous productions for Celebration Theatre, a venue that he has a great affinity for. “I started out as an actor with no ambitions to direct,” Bergmann recalled. “I directed in college and a bit here and there after that. But, working with Celebration Theatre really inspired me to take the director’s reins. It’s the community that Celebration has as a theatre and that they stand up for the LGBT community. It’s putting out art that I feel like we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.”
As for his role as Angela goes, Droege finds the task as “Great and terrifying at the same time.” He first fell in love with Busch’s Psycho Beach Party and has nothing but admiration for him. (In fact, the two are friends and recently saw him over the holidays in New York.)
“It’s so many different flavors, you watch terrible people tear each other to shreds and a good time will be had by all.”
“I wanted my high school drama department to do it. There was no way they would go for it,” Droege explained. “I remember being so immediately taken with the humor and the style. He’s sort of been in my life forever, his voice…And I want to do him proud. Angela is this horrible nightmare of a person and I think it’s the funniest character he’s ever written!”
The same sentiment holds true for Bergmann, his introduction to Busch being the play version of Psycho Beach Party, as well. “I’m a huge fan,” he said. “His writing stands on its own, it’s almost its own genre. People ask me to describe the show to them and I say, ‘It’s a campy, noir farce with some melodrama thrown in for spice.’ But, if you take those things out separately, it’s not a camp show, it’s not a noir show and it’s not a farce show, not by any definition of those words. It’s this wonderful amalgamation of all these things in Charles Busch’s head.”
Droege, whose resume includes being a member of The Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade and many TV appearances, cites Two Broke Girls and Hot in Cleveland as favorites. But, for right now, his mind is on what audiences can expect from Die, Mommie, Die! “It’s so many different flavors,” he offered. “You watch terrible people tear each other to shreds and a good time will be had by all.”
Die, Mommie, Die runs from Friday, February 17 through Sunday, March 26 at the Celebration Theatre at the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Avenue in Los Angeles. For tickets and more information, go to: celebrationtheatre.com.