Men in dresses and heels, what more could you want?
In early November, the main stage of Orcas Center is transformed into a drag queen-laden nightclub for a two-week run of the musical “La Cage aux Folles.”
“It bends gender at every opportunity, and is filled with beautiful costumes, flamboyant production numbers and the bawdy humor of a French farce,” said director Bruce Langford. “Underneath all that is a show about love, partnership, family values, loyalty, honesty and the will to be exactly, and unapologetically, who you are. It’s a show about aging and coming of age. It is entertainment filled with heart.”
“La Cage” will show on Nov. 8–11 and Nov. 14–18 at 7:30 p.m. at Orcas Center. Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and there is an opening-night special of $10 for all audience members. Tickets are available online at www.orcascenter.org or from the center’s box office.
“This music is infectious! The songs are great, complex, melodic and every one an earworm,” said actor Jake Perrine, who is playing Georges, one of the leads. “The story is as timely as ever: a clash of opposing lifestyles and political points of view. And it’s ultimately a touching story about family, and living your truth, which never goes out of style.”
Set in St. Tropez, France, “La Cage” tells the story of a gay couple – one a nightclub manager, Georges, the other a drag queen in said nightclub, Albin – whose adult son is engaged to an ultraconservative couple’s daughter. The story may be familiar to audiences; the play was adapted into the American film “The Birdcage” with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
“At one point, Jean-Michel asks his father Georges to temporarily set aside everything he believes in, even to deny his love for his lifelong partner, Albin,” explains Langford. “Georges replies that tradition, morality and family values are precisely what the popular drag club on the French Riviera is all about. And while these things may not always appear the same on the surface, it makes them no less genuine and important for those who hold those values.”
New to the island, but not to theater, Langford said he began life as a singer and actor – as most children of preacher-fathers are wont to do.
“I toured for several years singing both opera and musical theater, throughout the United States, and eventually expanded into conducting, directing and producing, both on stage and in media,” says Langford.
The show’s extravagant dance numbers are choreographed by Broadway dancer and performer Eric Underwood.
“I received a call from Director Bruce Langford after he learned I was an original Los Angeles Cagelle (chorus member) who took over the role of Nicole on Broadway,” said Underwood. “It’s been truly rewarding to see Orcas local talent stepping up to bring their characters to life. … I am absolutely thrilled to be living in one of my favorite places on the planet and bringing the fun-loving message ‘La Cage’ celebrates to Orcas Center audiences.”
The production also stars Robert Hall as Albin. Both Perrine and Hall have extensive experience on and off the stage as actors and directors.
“This part is challenging for me; I’ve never been in drag before or played the part of a man who identified as a woman — and it’s a comedy — so, it’s been fun,” said Hall. “It’s a great cast, lots of fun people.”
The show includes elaborate production numbers with a bevy of Cagelles played by Laura Anderson, Charles Dalton, Charlie Eon, Gus Klueber, Laura Kussman, Jim Schaffer-Bauck, Colleen Smith, Maddie Olson and Stephanie Wright. Supporting cast members are: Mason Brown, Christopher Evans, Stormy Hildreth, Bill Gincig, Sanjaya Malakar, Luann Pamatian, Deborah Sparks, Don Yerly and Joey Vanpelt.
Grace McCune is musical director and Asifa Welch-Pasin is costume designer. The two leads are also involved with the behind-the-scenes projects. Hall designed and built the set, while Perrine is running sound and working with pianist Stephen Fairweather to record backing tracks for all of the numbers in the show.
“Stephen is hands down the finest sight-reading pianist I have ever worked with, and he has been recording the score parts into MIDI files, which I then turn into orchestrations with samplers, and mix them into show ready tracks,” Perrine said. “It’s easily as big a job as playing a lead part in the show, and I am deeply grateful for his time and talents in helping me accomplish this daunting task.”
So, throw on your stilettos and lace up your fanciest party dress and get ready for laughs, love, music and folles (French for queens).
“In many ways, these are troubled times. But it’s safe to say, we all agree it’s rarely productive to pretend to be someone you are not,” Langford said. “We also believe family is important, and relationships are what matters most in life. That’s the message of ‘La Cage aux Folles’ and it delivers it with flair.”