Busch League

In the right hands, the Charles Busch formula – camp up a film niche, turn it into a simultaneous homage and parody, then throw in a guy in drag – is fail-safe funny for anyone already enamored with pop culture. Such is the case with a new production of Die Mommy, Die!, Busch’s sendup of those Bette Davis/Joan Crawford/Lana Turner B-movie thrillers of the late ’60s, which opens July 18 at the Avenue Theater for a summer-long run. In it, a pop diva in decline plots to kill her husband; in the Busch tradition, that character, Angela Arden, is played without mercy by actor Chris Whyde.

“It’s not quite film noir, but it does include all the crazy ways to kill your husband,” says Avenue’s Bob Wells. “One weapon used is an arsenic-laced suppository, with the attempted murder performed in full view of the audience. You can tell where it goes from there....” Throw in a lot of “silly, edgy, crisp dialogue” and the magic touch of director Nick Sugar (a veteran of the late Theatre on Broadway, where Busch-style fare thrived), and you’ve got a true gem of camp. “This is really Nick’s forte,” Wells adds. “In a previous life, I believe he was Lana Turner.”

Die Mommy, Die continues on Fridays at 10 p.m., Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m., through August 29 at the Avenue Theater, 417 East 17th Avenue. For details or to reserve tickets, $15, visit www.avenuetheater.com or call 303-321-5925.
Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.; Fridays, 10 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Starts: July 18. Continues through Oct. 10, 2009