Die, Mommie, Die!
|Die, Mommie, Die!|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Rucker|
|Produced by||Dante Di Loreto
|Screenplay by||Charles Busch|
|Based on||Die, Mommie, Die!
by Charles Busch
Philip Baker Hall
|Music by||Dennis McCarthy|
|Edited by||Philip Harrison|
Bill Kenwright Films
|Distributed by||Sundance Film Series|
Die, Mommie, Die! is a 2003 American satirical comedy film written by Charles Busch, who also plays the lead role. Partly spoof and partly homage, it draws heavily on the tropes and themes of American "Grande Dame Guignol" films and plays from the 1950s and 1960s that featured strong, sometimes dominating female leads, such as those by Bette Davis (Dead Ringer) and Ethel Merman (Gypsy). It was later performed onstage in 2007 under the same name.
The film opens with Angela Arden kneeling in front of her twin sister Barbara's grave. Angela is a lounge singer who is attempting to resuscitate her floundering career, which became obsolete around the same time Barbara committed suicide. She's unhappily married to her film director husband Sol Sussman, with whom they have two children–Lance, who is gay and emotionally disturbed, and Edith, a "daddy's girl" who is openly contemptuous of her mother. Also living in the house is the snoopy maid Bootsie, who is infatuated with Sol. Bored and unhappy, Angela begins cheating on her husband with Tony Parker, a tennis-playing "lothario" and failed actor who is reputed to be well endowed.
Sol finds out after hiring a private detective to follow Angela around. He confronts her about it but he refuses to divorce her. Instead, he gives her "life in prison". Not only does he cancel all of Angela's credit cards, he forbids her from performing at an engagement in New York, destroying the contract before she has a chance to sign it. Feeling trapped and eager to get her hands on her husband's money, Angela poisons an ever-constipated Sol with an arsenic-laced suppository.
Despite the fact that Angela receives virtually nothing in Sol's will, her children, along with Bootsie, begin to suspect Angela's involvement. And the suspicious circumstances of Sol's death bring old questions about Angela's sister's death to light. Edith–and later Lance–hatch a plot to get her to confess. Meanwhile, Tony successfully seduces both the children, taking an unusual interest in the details surrounding Aunt Barbara's death. After Bootsie is found dead, the children eventually get Angela to confess her crimes by lacing her evening coffee with LSD.
During her bender, Angela not only reveals that she poisoned Sol, but that she is not Angela but really Barbara. In flashback, Barbara reveals how as Angela's career flourish, her own fell apart, culminating in her arrest for jewelry theft. After serving her sentence, Barbara arrived at Angela's mansion, greeted with scorn and ridicule from the immensely egotistical Angela. Watching the physical and emotional abuse Angela doled out to Sol and the children, Barbara devised a plan to poison her sister and take over her life, her family and, most importantly, her career. The children watch with confusion as Barbara announces she killed Angela.
As they turn the tape over to Tony, Edith and Lance fight over who will be the one to run away with him, while he respectfully refuses both of them. Meanwhile, a masked assailant pops up and tries to dispatch Barbara; in the scuffle, Barbara pulls off the assailant's mask, revealing Sol underneath. With all the primary players in the room, Sol reveals how he and Bootsie faked his death for him to escape outstanding mob debts he couldn't pay back and how he was forced to kill Bootsie to protect his secret. Tony then reveals he is really an FBI agent who's been heading a case investigation Angela's murder before arresting Sol. The children - finally understanding Barbara's motives and desperation - hug Barbara while Tony says he will destroy the evidence to protect her from an eventual prison stint and trip to the gas chamber. But Barbara tells them, as she walks to her waiting police escort outside, that by finally being herself, she will finally gain her freedom from living under her sister's shadow.
- Charles Busch as Angela Arden / Barbara Arden
- Jason Priestley as Tony Parker
- Frances Conroy as Bootsie Carp
- Philip Baker Hall as Sol Sussman
- Stark Sands as Lance Sussman
- Natasha Lyonne as Edith Sussman
- Josh Hutchinson as Policeman
- Victor Raider-Wexler as Sam Fishbein
- Nora Dunn as Shatzi Van Allen
- Stanley DeSantis as Tuchman
- Josh Hutchinson as Policeman
- Chris McDaniel and Tom Hughes as Moving men
- Paul Vinson as Leather daddy
Busch's 50+ Costumes designed by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case
The play was first produced in Los Angeles in 1999. Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, longtime costume designers for Busch created his wardrobe and won an Ovation Award. In 2007, it was produced in New York for the first time. It opened for previews on October 10 at the New World Stages Off Broadway. The official opening night was October 21, 2007. The cast included Charles Busch recreating his original roles, Van Hansis (of CBS television's As the World Turns), Bob Ari, Chris Hoch, Ashley Morris, and Kristine Nielsen. Again, Busch's costumes were again designed by Bottari and Case and they were nominated for a Lucille Lortel (winners), Drama Desk, American Theatre Wing and Outer Critics Awards. The run ended in January 2008.
The UK Premiere Production produced by Vertigo Theatre Productions opened March 2011 at Taurus on Canal Street. The show was such a hit during its run that the company announced the show will reopen in a new venue (Sachas Hotel) in August 2011. Writer Charles Busch himself gave interviews to UK publications to help promote the show. Dale Vicker played the role of Angela Arden to great acclaim; Craig Hepworth directed.