‘It’s Farce, Fun…’
‘La Cage Aux Folles’ To Be Performed At JCC
It’s a Jamestown Community College Uncommoners’ production that may spark discussion — and a lot of laughter.
“La Cage aux Folles” Director Todd Wagner is fine with that.
Wagner said the production is a traditional musical.
“This (La Cage) is very traditional in a sense it has a five- to 10-minute scene, and then there’s a song; a 10- to 15-minute scene and song. That’s what kind of drew me to it,” he said.
The director also pointed out that the tradition is not the only aspect that drew him to directing.
“(It’s) the story of looking more at a human being on the inside instead of what’s on the outside,” Wagner said.
“La Cage aux Folles” tells the story of Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez, France, nightclub featuring drag queen entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction. They prepare for a visit from Georges’s son, Jean-Michel, who is bringing his fiancee’s ultra-conservative parents to meet them.
Wagner said it’s a musical that has not been presented before at JCC. “A lot of musicals and community-based programs are usually family-oriented. This still is family oriented, but 10, 15 years ago a lot of families would not have taken their children to watch a drag (queen) performance. There are all kinds of families. There’s two men together that have a kid. There’s two women that have a kid. I just think it’s the time for it (the production),” Wagner said.
Designing the show’s set came from an inspiration of looking at palm trees. “How can I make a palm tree a little more different, a little more flashy?” Wagner said. The director noted that colors used in the show are peacock-themed. And he thought of peacocks while getting inspiration from the palm trees.
Wagner said the set includes a rotating stage, so the set turns and cast members walk on as it’s turning. Wagner said that the stage is divided into halves so that while one scene is being performed, another is being set up behind a drop curtain. “It’s a unique element instead of doing it in the dark. You see that furniture coming in and you see the drops coming down, and they all meet at the same point,” he said.
“It’s farce, fun, with lots of comic relief,” Wagner added. “It’s a big musical and it’s drag queens — a lot of boys dancing in heels that have never danced in heels before.”
Cast members include Adam Owens as Albin/Zaza, Jim Foley as Georges, Derek VeVlieger as Jean-Michel, Daman Holland as Jacob, Genevieve Ellis as Anne Dindon, Don Hill as Edouard Dindon, Kristina Benson as Marie Dindon, Sharon Rula Backos as Jacqueline, Jamie Lee Rose as Renaud, and Andrew Delcamp as Francis.
Performing as cagelles are Rudi Andalora, Anna Rodionova, Brandon Milanowski, Mike Giambelluca, Hayate Ishida, Caleb Roller, Skyler Schapp, Alana Moore, Taylor Brightman, and Raelyn Robinson.
Chloe Kilmartin, Veronica Benini, Rodionova, Rachel Ekstrom, and Haley Pierce comprise the musical ensemble.
Wagner said the orchestra pit is going back down near the front of the stage. The pit that was upstairs is now being used for a box which seats up to 20 people and is available to businesses or groups. “We are trying it out to see if it works. It’s a great view,” Wagner added. During the show, he noted, the group in the box receives hors d’oeuvres.
“The dancing is spectacular. The singing is spectacular. It’s such a heartfelt story by the end. You want the characters to be happy. It’s all about the kids and their marriage. It ends up being that at the end,” Wagner said.
Performances are today, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Shows are also set for Feb. 6-8 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.
Ticket information is available by contacting JCC’s box office at 338-1187 or campusstore.sunyjcc.edu.