Murder, She Emoted

"Die, Mommie, Die!" runs July 9-Aug. 7 at the San Leandro Museum Auditorium.


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"Die, Mommie, Die!" is about Angela Arden, a long-ago-faded singing star plotting her comeback.

Charles Busch is always good for a gloriously campy homage to retro Hollywood genres in his comedies, most of which originally starred the playwright in drag. His hilarious Psycho Beach Party combined 1950s beach-party flicks with a serial-killer plot that borrowed heavily from Alfred Hitchcock films.

Die, Mommie, Die!, which the small community theater San Leandro Players is performing this summer, is steeped in the Grande Dame Guignol melodramas of the 1960s, many of which starred Bette Davis. The play was also made into a 2003 movie directed by Mark Rucker, who later became associate artistic director at American Conservatory Theater and died last year.

Die, Mommie, Die! is about Angela Arden, a long-ago-faded singing star plotting her comeback. Angela’s grown children despise her, her husband (a Hollywood director) is trying to control her, she’s having an affair with a sleazy tennis pro, and she’s haunted by the memory of a twin sister who’s long dead—or is she? Packed with sly nods to classic B-movies and to Greek tragedy, this outrageous satire is overflowing with venom, poison, and other controlled substances.

Nick Kempen helms the show in his SLP directorial debut. San Leandro Players have taken a turn toward camp in recent years, with revivals of old-time melodramas and goofy new plays in the style of ’50s sci-fi flicks, so Busch’s comedy should be right up their alley.

Die, Mommie, Die!, July 9-Aug. 7, Friday, Saturday 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; San Leandro Museum Auditorium, 320 West Estudillo Ave., San Leandro; $15-$20; 510-895-2573, www.SLPlayers.org.

 

Editor's Note: This story appears in the July edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.

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