GUTHRIE — You could catch a flight that would take you to the French Riviera, but why go to all that trouble and expense when the Pollard Theatre is offering a similar experience for a fraction of the cost. The theater's stage soon will be transformed into a St. Tropez nightclub that's frequented by “both the riffraff and the royalty.”
Tony Award-winning composer Jerry Herman went on to describe this Mediterranean hangout as “bawdy and bizarre.” It is, of course, the setting for “La Cage Aux Folles,” a 1983 musical about a gay couple (Georges and Albin) whose son (Jean-Michel) announces his plans to be married.
Unfortunately, his fiancee's father happens to be Edouard Dindon, an ultraconservative politician who heads up the “Tradition, Family and Morality Party.” Jean-Michel, Georges' son from a brief fling he had with a woman two decades earlier, wants to invite his future in-laws to dinner, a decision that is certain to be disastrous.
Hoping to convince the Dindons that his parents are a normal couple, Jean-Michel offends Albin by asking him not to attend the dinner. Albin decides instead to come in drag and masquerade as Jean-Michel's mother. Jerome Stevenson, who directs the Pollard's production of “La Cage Aux Folles,” calls the popular show “a traditional musical comedy with nontraditional leads.”
“Georges and Albin live in a society that is completely accepting of their lifestyle,” Stevenson said. “Albin has raised Jean-Michel as his own which shows how committed he is to Georges. These two men have found a way to live together, something that can often be difficult for heterosexual couples.”
The Pollard production reunites James Hughes and Michael James, actors who portrayed Georges and Albin when the Pollard Theatre premiered “La Cage Aux Folles” in 2005. Stevenson said neither actor hesitated when he asked if they'd be interested in starring in this encore presentation.
Harvey Fierstein, who adapted Jean Poiret's 1973 French play in creating this musical adaptation, cleverly employed opposing political views to provide “La Cage Aux Folles” with much of its humor. When the press learn that the Dindons are dining with Georges and Albin, they plan to photograph the high-minded conservative exiting the drag nightclub.
“We knew this production would fall during an election year which should create a greater connection with audiences,” Stevenson said. “It will be nice to reference issues of civil rights in a way that an intelligent audience will get. There's some fun to be had in addressing that with a wink and a nod.
“People who come to see it with an open mind will come away with an understanding that people have to be who they are regardless of what the community at large says is appropriate. It's ultimately a show about the importance of family.”
We knew this production would fall during an election year which should create a greater connection with audiences.”