Review: Twinkie and the Beast (MidTangent Productions)


Beastly, bawdy fun!


The cast of MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Hydrate Night Club in Chicago

MidTangent Productions present
Twinkie and the Beast
Written and Directed by Tony Lewis
Hydrate Nightclub, 3458 N. Halsted (map)
through April 30  |  tickets: $10  |  more info

Reviewed by K.D. Hopkins

I always have a good time in Boystown whether it’s shopping at some of the more interesting stores (hellooo Tulip!) or sipping a citron and cranberry at Hydrate. I had the great pleasure and bonus of seeing the MidTangent production of Twinkie and the Beast to go with my libation.

This show is a brilliant send up of the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story. It was refreshing and quite hysterical to see it done so irreverently with the denizens of Boystown.

Loren Agron as Swell and Omicah House as The Beast in MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Hydrate Night Club in ChicagoThis is the story of a hot little twink named Swell who is looking for love and won’t give up the goodies until he finds it. Loren Agron plays Swell with delightful aplomb. Swell is pursued by the cocksure swain Piston played by Aaron Michael Adamkiewicz. Piston is a great caricature of the villain Gaston in the original fairy tale. Adamkiewicz struts about the stage in various rough trade attire as a porn star who always gets his man. I loved the obviously stuffed jeans which reminded me of Led Zeppelin back in the day. Piston later emerges in homage to Larry Blackmon of Cameo in leather  pants and a codpiece – hysterically sexy!

Swell runs to his Fairy Godmother, played by drag star Madame X, to avail of her advice on the pressure to give in to Piston or wait for true love. This scene is truly about the beauty and artistry of drag. Madame X is a surreal vision in Fellini pink and kabuki mannered gestures.

The story gets more surreal when Swell enters the Beast’s manor and trades his life to save Fairy Godmother from the dungeon. We meet all of the enchanted characters who used to be regular Boystown folks.

Wiggins used to be the Beast’s fag hag before he was cursed to wear the leather mask and seriously big wig. Wiggins was rewarded for her loyalty by being turned into a big pile of wigs. Erin Daly has a phenomenal voice and exquisite sense of timing as Wiggins. The other characters are from a drag queen’s cosmetic case as well. There is Karla Meyer as Lipour, the living lipstick attired in a stock French maid outfit.

Michael Elm plays the role of Pouf, a powder puff who channels Ernie Kovacs as Percy Dovetonsils. Elm is hilarious with his droll and imperious delivery. And then there is Doobie – yes a giant human joint who can roll one off of himself. Poor Doobie just came to deliver a pizza and voila, he is what he smokes. Andrew Kain Miller embodies the skateboarding slacker in the Dunkin Doughnuts parking lot but with a much better physique.

Omicah House as The Beast in MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Hydrate Night Club. A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown.
A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown. A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown.

The Beast is played by Omicah House. He wears sky high acrylic platform knee high boots and a nice series of corsets. Mr. House delivers every line with booming ferocity which actually gets to be a bit much when the Beast is supposed to be softening and falling for Swell.

Twinkie and the Beast has fantastic choreography. Every cast member is synchronized and on beat. It was like watching a queer Soul Train-awesome. Not everyone is a great singer in this cast and the music is literally carried by Erin Daly, who is a powerhouse singer. I suspect that she leads her own band or she should anyway.

Although there were sound glitches and several painful feedback moments (that the cast played through in a professional manner), Twinkie and the Beast is still a fun and naughty night on the town. Get a drink from the really cute bartender and settle in for a raucous evening of laughs, one liners, and visual delight!

Rating: ★★★

A scene from MidTangent Production's 'Twinkie and the Beast' at Chicago's Hydrate Night Club in Boystown.

The MidTangent production of Twinkie and the Beast runs through April 30th at Hydrate Night Club, with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 9:00pm. Hydrate is located at 3458 N. Halsted (map). Tickets are $10, and can be purchased online or by phone (773-835-0420). More information on their Facebook page. Get there early and take a walk through the neighborhood. It’s beastly fun!


Chicago Theater Recommendations (July 2008)

A summary of theatre recommendations from the Tribune (Trib), Sun-Times (ST), Chicago Theatre Blog (CTB), and TimeOut Chicago (TO).   


Play   (Producers and/or Location)

Recommended By

Campaign Supernova (Second City etc.) Trib, ST
Cirque Shanghai Gold (Navy Pier)   Trib, TO, CTB
Dead Man’s Cellphone (Steppenwolf)   Trib, CTB
Hizzoner (Beverly Arts Center) Trib, CTB
Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night                  (Theo Ubique – No Exit Cafe) Trib, CTB, ST
Jersey Boys (Broadway in Chicago) Trib, ST, CTB, TO
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Gift Theatre) Trib, TO
The Mark of Zorro (Lifeline Theatre) Trib, TO, ST
Superior Donuts (Steppenwolf) Trib, CTB, TO
Wicked (Broadway in Chicago) Trib, CTB, ST
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Drury Lane Oakbrook) Trib, ST
The Lion in Winter (Writers’ Theatre) Trib, TO, ST
Relatively Close (Victory Gardens) CTB
Kooza (Cirque du Soleil – United Center) TO, CTB, ST, Trib
Gutenberg! The Musical!  (Royal George Theatre) TO, CTB
Lookingglass Alice (Lookingglass Theatre) TO
Funk It Up About Nuthin’ (Chicago Shakes) TO
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale (MidTangent) TO, CTB
Ren Faire! (Prp Thtr) TO
Hay Fever (Circle Theatre) ST
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Goodman Theatre) ST
Jekyll & Hyde (Boho Theatre) ST, CTB
I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass)
(Black Ensemble Theater)
A Steady Rain (Royal George) ST, CTB
Co-Ed Prison Sluts (Annoyance Theatre) Trib
A Rabbit’s Tale (Millennium Park) Trib

Review: "A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale"

Shakespeare, Never So Gay and Never So Fun!

By Venus Zarris

This midsummer seems to be chocked full of options for fans of the Bard. There are two productions currently running of Much Ado About Nothing, one under the starlight and trees of the First Folio Shakespeare Festival at the beautiful Mayslake Peabody Estate Forest Preserve in Oak Brook and the other at the Oak Park Festival Theatre. There is also Funk It Up About Nothin’ (weblink here), a world premiere “ad-rap-tation” of Much Ado About Nothing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. (It can’t be Nothing if there are three productions going on at once. I call that Much Ado!)

On July 26th Bohemian Theatre Ensemble opens The Merchant of Venice at BoHo Theatre @ Heartland Studio and on the 27th The Mill Theatre opens Paula Vogel’s Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief, a reimagining of Othello, at Stage Left Theatre.

midsummer nights dream - a queer tale But if you are looking to satisfy your iambic pentameter cravings with a delightfully decadent deviation, MidTangent Productions A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale is the show for you! Director/Adaptor Tony Lewis takes Shakespeare’s romantic comedy of young lovers and mischievous fairies and infuses it with a red light cabaret complete with some of the best dance numbers you’ll see in any musical. Filled with writhing bodies engaged in undulating erotic naughtiness, this spin on the Bard’s classic will make you wish that all of the Shakespeare library could be retold with as much homoerotic delight.

In the struggle to gain mainstream acceptance, the gay community has taken to homogenized representations. Many of us are settling down, pairing off in committed relationships, buying homes and/or having or adopting children. On the surface it might even be construed that being straight is so great, we are attempting to imitate or emulate. But Queer Tale stands as not only a wonderful adaptation of Shakespeare, it also stands as an unapologetically sexual solute to the daring divergence and darling debauchery at the roots of gay liberation and expression.

With forbidden lesbian and gay relationships, a Drag Queen Titania lip-syncing to Cher and Madonna and an outrageously erotic dance party fueled by euphoric intoxicants, this show celebrates the ‘old school’ joie de vivre of the community while, at the same time, illustrating the ongoing struggles for acceptance and equality. With a charming cast, fantastic soundtrack and the most playful choreography in town, this will reinvent your notions of Shakespeare in love to include sophisticated and stylized same sex subversion.

“How now faggots?” Asks Puck. “We are but tricks and treats!” Answers the Fairyz of the Hood. From the brilliant dance opening to the bittersweet end, MidTangent’s ‘Queer Tale’ is filled with tricks and treats and then some!

The outstanding direction, conceptual ingenuity and adorably enthusiastic cast shine through to make this a production that transcends sexual orientation or identification. You can’t help but be enchanted by this midsummer dream.

“Some are born gay. Some achieve gayness. And some have gayness thrust upon them.”

Regardless of your sexual proclivity, Queer Tale makes for amazingly entertaining Shakespeare and ambitiously excellent theater!

Rating: «««½

(“A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Queer Tale ” runs through August 3 at National Pastime Theater, 4139 North Broadway (map). 800-595-4849)