Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Jul 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Fab, Frothy and Fun

ae LaCageCabrillo Stage’s summer season opens with flashy, yet heartfelt ‘La Cage Aux Folles’

La Cage Aux Folles” debuted as a French play in 1973, was made into a film in 1978, and was adapted into a musical in the U.S. in 1983. In 1997, it was reproduced as a comedy film—sans the music—titled The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman. And on July 12, local audiences will have an opportunity to see the play re-imagined once again, this time by Cabrillo Stage.

The musical, which runs through Aug. 11, tells the story of Albin and Georges, a gay couple, who have been together for more than 20 years. Set in France, their lives center around the Saint-Tropez nightclub that Georges owns and operates and where Albin performs as the main attraction: his drag queen alter-ego, Zaza. Troubles arise when Georges’ son, Jean-Michel (the product of a long-past one-night stand), comes home to announce that he is engaged. Jean-Michel’s fiancée has extremely conservative parents—with a political agenda pointedly against drag clubs—who want to meet their daughter’s future in-laws. 

“The play follows how this family goes about making those two worlds meet,” explains director/choreographer Janie Scott. “It’s essentially a story about the commitment of family. Whether it’s two people who stay together through thick and thin, the love for children, or accepting people for who they are and how people take a stance around that.”

Because of its portrayal of the struggles and triumphs of a gay couple, “La Cage Aux Folles” makes plain statements about equality for the LGBTQI community. Jon Nordgren, producing artistic director and orchestra conductor for Cabrillo Stage, sees the production as “ripped from the headlines.”

“One of the main dialogues going through America today is about gay marriage,” Nordgren says. “This play is just a reminder that two people can have a wonderful lifetime relationship as a couple that is really no different between two men, or a man and a woman, or two women.”

While “La Cage Aux Folles” is as timely as ever for LGBT communities and allies of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and overturn Prop 8, the play’s thematic resonance goes far deeper than its political implications.

ae2Tony Panighetti and Curt Denham (middle) let loose in Cabrillo Stage’s rendition of “La Cage Aux Folles.”“I don't think [‘La Cage Aux Folles’] is preachy; the show itself does not talk about legal issues in any way, shape, or form,” reflects Scott. “That isn’t really what its purpose is. It’s very much like other plays and musicals presenting a family story and the challenges they face—and how they aren’t different from you or I at all.” 

For Equity actor Tony Panighetti, preparing to play the role of Albin has been a lesson in “being happy with who you are”—a message he believes is applicable to anyone. The challenges of playing Albin go far beyond performing in high heels, dresses and wigs, as Panighetti is juggling two personas.

“While Albin is fragile, neurotic, and emotionally sensitive, Zaza is the engaging star performer who goes on stage and takes the spotlight,” reflects Panighetti. “There is a good portion of the rehearsal process that is all about harmonizing the transformation between the two sides, while still telling the story of Albin as Georges’ significant other.”

That balancing act is reflected in the large variety of costumes and choreography that the cast has to navigate—from tap dancing, to the can-can, to big show-girl, Vegas-style numbers—all while managing the oscillations between the comedic, serious and touching scenes in the play.

The drama is heightened by music performed by a live orchestra. Cabrillo Stage has brought on more than 50 musicians in total to provide the score for its three summer productions: “La Cage Aux Folles,” “Oklahoma!” (July 26-Aug. 18) and an encore of “Escaping Queens” (July 25-Aug. 18).

 “Hearing a musical as it was originally done [with a live orchestra] defines [Cabrillo Stage]—it’s why people love our company so much,” says Nordgren. “When you sit in the audience of a show like ‘La Cage Aux Folles,’ you’re going to have 30 actors on stage and 24 musicians in the pit—that’s 54 people … you can imagine how much energy that produces.”

Scott and the cast hope that audiences will be simultaneously entertained and touched by their rendition of the play.

“I think that having an opportunity to be in this world that is being presented in such a positive way is something not only for an audience to celebrate,” Scott notes, “but for my cast to celebrate as well.” 


‘La Cage Aux Folles’ runs July 12-Aug. 11 at Cabrillo Stage, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Tickets are $22-42. For tickets, call 479-6154 or visit cabrillostage.com. Photos: RR Jones

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food