Psycho Beach Party Brings the Beach to UNH

Angela Tricarico

The University Of New Haven Theater Program premiered their production of Psycho Beach Party on Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Bucknall Theater at 8 p.m.

Kiera Terrell and Michael Kennedy as Chicklet and Star Cat in Psycho Beach Party (Photo by Cassie Washington)
Kiera Terrell and Michael Kennedy as Chicklet and Star Cat in Psycho Beach Party
(Photo by Cassie Washington)

Psycho Beach Party is a play written by Charles Busch, which premiered off-Broadway in 1987. It was written intending to satirize the beach party movies (Gidget, Beach Party, etc…) of the 50’s and 60’s with themes of music, fun, freedom, and sexuality in a hilarious and twisted way, reminiscent of 80’s slasher films.

The show, directed by Jonathan Yukich, ran for five performances: Nov. 4, 5, 6, and 7 at 8 p.m., with an additional 3 p.m. showing on the Saturday.

The cast featured students from all years, from graduating seniors to first year students.

The lead female, Chicklet Forrest was played by Kiera Terrell. The rest of the cast included Brian Guski as Yo-Yo, Tim Sheehan as Provoloney, Michael Kennedy as Star Cat, Joshua Dill as Kanaka, a surfing legend, Brianna L’Ecuyer as Berdine, Kaitlin Mahar as Marvel Ann, Andy Esborn as Nicky, Brooke Cyr as Dee Dee, Erica Quaedvlieg as movie star Bettina Barnes, and Amanda Rae Sigan as Chicklet’s mother.

Psycho Beach Party tells the story of Chicklet, a young teenager who wants to learn how to surf. It isn’t long before the audience learns that not all is as it seems with Chicklet: she has multiple personalities and seems to click in and out of them when being triggered a certain way.

The type of comedy the production showcased had the audience laughing through the whole show, and the set itself was enough to take audiences out of the dreary November weather to somewhere warmer.

Chicklet isn’t Terrell’s first time playing a lead role, but she says it was definitely the most challenging.

“Chicklet is the most complicated character I have ever played, so the biggest challenge for me was making each personality come alive as its own character,” Terrell said.

Preparing for Psycho Beach Party began two and a half months ago; Mahar thinks that all of their hard work finally came to the surface with the performances of the show.

Mahar, a graduating senior, has been in two other productions at UNH (The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, and School for Wives), but says that this one was definitely the most fun.

“I literally didn’t have a single moment where I wasn’t enjoying myself, despite the fact that this is the most demanding show I’ve ever done,” Mahar said.

Mahar also noted that as a director Yukich “really emphasized the need to play and make big choices for our characters.”

Both Terrell and Mahar said that this production helped them step out of their comfort zones more as actors. Terrell said it also helped her become more confident with making big comedic choices.

The production had excellent reviews from many of the students who went to see any of the five shows.

“I’m definitely going to be going away from this experience with great memories and long-lasting friendships,” Mahar said, wrapping up her entire time working on Psycho Beach Party after closing night.