HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
by Kelly Moran
La Cage aux Folles – the Palace Theater’s Fall Musical
Suppose your son or daughter wanted to marry someone whose family you didn’t like? Maybe you’re political opposites . . . or you just don’t like the way they live . . . or both? And now they’re coming to dinner, to meet you!
That’s the dilemma at the heart of La Cage aux Folles, the 13th annual Fall Musical at Hilo’s Historic Palace Theater. The French title is slang for “the madhouse” — an appropriate description for this madcap farce. Based on a French play, the “book” was adapted by Harvey Fierstein, who won a Tony Award for it; and the music and lyrics are by Jerry Herman, who previously wrote the musicals Mame and Hello Dolly.
Georges (Saul Rollason) owns the night club next door, where the star attraction is his longtime partner Albin (Douglas Wayman), who’s famous as “ZaZa,” a female-impersonator in drag. Georges’s son Jean-Michel (Kevin Landucci) lives with them, and sheer madness ensues when he announces he has invited his fiancée Anne (Dana Bebmanoff) and her ultra-conservative, anti-gay parents (Michael Stevens and Erin Smith) to meet them.
Georges (Saul Rollason) reacts in mock-horror when his partner Albin (Douglas Wayman) says he wants to meet the uptight, homophobic parents of the girl Georges’s son wants to marry. Photo by Daniel Nathaniel.
What should they do? Maybe Albin could pretend to be an “uncle,” and act macho, with coaching by their neighbors Monsieur and Madame Renaud (Randall McEndree and Stephanie Becher)? Or maybe he should get up in drag and pretend to be Jean-Michel’s “mother”? It doesn’t help that their “maid” Jacob (Alston Albarado) is given to hilarious antics of his own. Nor that, right next door, the show must go on, with the “Cagelles and Cagettes” (Billy Shakley, Norman Arancon, Tanya Aynessazian, Cole Stremski-Borero, Carmen Richardson and Amber Lopez) dancing up a storm. When Jacob burns the dinner, everyone retires to a restaurant run by Jacqueline (Justine A. Thompson), but they won’t be able to relax there, either. You’ll have to come to the show to find out what happens next!
During a rehearsal, Director Doug Scheer (far right) and Choreographer Michael Misita (next to him) strike a pose with four of the “Cagelles and Cagettes” dancers, Cole Stremski-Borero, Tanya Aynessazian, Billy Shakley and (below) Norman Arancon. Photo by Daniel Nathaniel.
Also in the cast are Phill Russell, Gene Gold, Jherrie Rubeyiat, Bria Callaway, Katherine Wilson, Stephanie Hull, Mary Chapman and Jessica Dempsey. Michael Misita is the Choreographer. Catherine McPherson is Stage Manager. And Music Director Cheryl “Quack” Moore will lead the Palace/Cage aux Folles band.
ZaZa (Douglas Wayman) is the star attraction at La Cage aux Folles, in a dance number with the Cagelles. Photo by Daniel Nathaniel.
For the show’s Director, Doug Scheer, “La Cage aux Folles is really about the relationship between Georges and Albin — their marriage, their partnership, whatever you want to call it, which is not really different from any other relationship between two people who love each other, and who stay together as a family through thick and thin. Bigotry does come into it. That homophobic politician ultimately gets a better understanding of gay people – that we’re just like everybody else.
“But I believe that people in Hawaii will see something that’s actually very familiar,” he said. “There are so many hanai families here, with cousins raised as siblings, or relatives and family friends who take in the children of their troubled neighbors. Extended and non-standard family life is part of the culture here. I’m sure that audiences will be able to relate to this story, and understand that unconventional families are really the same, underneath it all.”
The Cagelles are the dancers at the nightclub called La Cage aux Folles (“the madhouse”). Photo by Daniel Nathaniel.
La Cage aux Folles will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings October 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18; with matinees at 2:30 p.m. Sundays October 12 and 19. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 on the day of the show. The box office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; advance tickets can also be purchased with credit cards, over the phone, at 934-7010.