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‘Psycho Beach Party’ to bring climate change to Columbus winter

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Provoloney (Andrew Trimmer), Star Cat (Jason Crase), YoYo, (Luke Stewart) Kanaka (Dan Montour) and Chicklet (Nick Hardin) are set to take the stage in "Psycho Beach Party," premiering at the Garden Theater Friday. Credit: Courtesy of Jason Allen

Provoloney (Andrew Trimmer), Star Cat (Jason Crase), YoYo (Luke Stewart), Kanaka (Dan Montour) and Chicklet (Nick Hardin) are set to take the stage in “Psycho Beach Party,” premiering at the Garden Theater Friday.
Credit: Courtesy of Jason Allen

An evening in the Short North can soon be a day at the beach with Columbus Immersive Theatre’s production of “Psycho Beach Party.”

Set to hit the Garden Theater stage Friday, the companionship of this Charles Busch play might help audiences forget their winter blues.

“You walk in, and you’re at the beach,” said director Edward Carignan, who hopes the audience will be able to transport to the ocean from cold Columbus.

Busch’s “Psycho Beach Party” is based on the 1957 novel “Gidget” about a young girl’s surfing adventures.

In this adaptation, the main character Chicklet Forrest, played in drag by Nick Hardin, is trying to be a member of her town’s surf crowd while overcoming the challenge of having multiple personalities, which a black cashier and a talk radio hostess.

During the performance, the audience sits on the stage which includes sand and a lifeguard stand.

“Immersive plays are rarely funny, and usually dark and dramatic,” Carignan said. “This play is just full of frivolous fun, and sometimes that’s necessary.”

Having recently moved to Columbus from New York City, Carignan is excited for this play to be shown in Columbus’ still-growing theater scene.

“In New York City, the scene is already established. This place is still blossoming and figuring out what its theater scene is, and that makes Columbus really special,” Carignan said.

Rick Gore, executive producer for the show, said he is happy to have it in the Short North and thinks the audience’s reactions will be positive.

“It’s a laugh-fest … Carignan has assembled a first-rate cast of performers who really understand comedy,” Gore said.

The company put on a trial run Tuesday night for a 20-member audience, and reception was strong, Gore said.

“Everyone just seemed to be having a great time.”

The show does have off-color and sacrilegious humor, but Gore considered this a non-issue.

“In the Short North we never have a problem with our audiences getting offended with anything that’s on the edgy side,” Gore said.

“Psycho Beach Party” is slated to show Friday, Saturday, Jan. 30, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m. at the Garden Theater in the Short North.

More information and tickets are available at shortnorthstage.org.

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