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Camelot stages 'La Cage Aux Folles'

Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub that showcases drag entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction who goes by the name Zaza, have lived happily for many years in an apartment above the nightclub with their houseboy, Jacob. When Georges' son, Jean-Michel, returns home to announce his engagement to a young girl with ultra-conservative parents, their charmed lives are turned upside down and a farcical adventure ensues.

"La Cage Aux Folles," with book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Jerry Harman, won six Tony Awards in 1983 when it opened on Broadway. A 2004 Broadway revival won a Tony for Best Revival, as did the 2010 revival. Christopher Sieber won two Tonys for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as the high-strung Albin.

In 1996, "La Cage" was turned into a film, "The Birdcage," starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. The film was nominated for a slew of awards, and, in 1997, Lane won an American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture. Co-star Dianne Wiest won ACA's Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.

Camelot Theatre's production of "La Cage Aux Folles" will star Oregon Shakespeare Festival understudy Alex Boyles as Georges, and David King-Gabriel as Albin.

"There are many iterations of 'La Cage Aux Folles' since the original French play in 1973," says Camelot director Rebecca Campbell. "The musical has enjoyed great popularity. It has an amazing score, lively production numbers, and characters that you become invested in. Though it was the first Broadway musical to focus on a gay romantic relationship, it was designed as family-friendly, song-and-dance entertainment when it debuted."

"La Cage" is an old-fashioned love story wrapped in feathers and sequins, sprinkled with glitter and tied with a bow. It's a funny and warmhearted farce about compassion, acceptance and being true to one's self.

"La Cage Aux Folles" previews Thursday, June 23, opens Friday, June 24, and runs through July 31 at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. A pay-what-you-can show will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 29. On Mondays, July 11, 18 and 25, patrons are encouraged to attend in themed costumes and will be entered into a drawing for free Camelot tickets.

Curtain is at 8 p.m. for all evening performances and 2 p.m. for Sunday matinees. Tickets are $18 for the preview, and $29 to $36 for all other shows. Tickets and information are available online at camelottheatre.org or by calling 541-535-5250. Rush tickets cost $18 and can be purchased 10 minutes before curtain. Senior discounts are available for evening performances.

Writers Fierstein and Herman met daily in Herman's Manhattan townhouse to work on the musical. Limited to the Jean Poiret play as source material, they were unable to include the character of Jean-Michel's birth mother, who was created for the film. Also, Fierstein's gay activism could have made the show a controversial attack on gay rights; however, Herman was eager to score a hit with mainstream, emotional and optimistic song-and-dance entertainment.

Look for Herman's songs “I Am What I Am,” “Song on the Sand” and others, along with some hilarious situations.

“I am what I am, I am my own special creation,” Campbell recites. "Those iconic lyrics from the score of 'La Cage aux Folles' resonate with audiences. They don’t just belong to every gay person in the world — they belong to all of us. That song has become an anthem for every human being’s expression of individuality, and a source of strength and inspiration for so many people."

Campbell also choreographs the production, and musical direction is by Karl Iverson. Zaq Wentworth plays Jean-Michel, Grace Peets is Madame Dindon, and other cast members include Bob Brazeau, Shannon Carter, Jonny Degner, Haley Forsyth, Olivia Harrison, Jacob Hastings, Rigo Jimenez, Kathleen King, Joey Larimer, Eoghan McDowell, Andrew Pena, Reece Rush, Jack Seybold, Lillie Shepherd, Sophie Stricker, Kendra Taylor, Tootsie West and Brad Zentgraf.

Set designer is Don Zastoupil, costume designer is Michael Leon, and wig designer is Charelle Guyton.

Camelot Theatre dedicates its production of "La Cage" to those who died during the June 12, 2016, shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and their families.

Chorus line Les Cagelles introduce themselves with 'We Are What We Are,' in Camelot Theatre's 'La Cage Aux Folles.' Photo by Ricardo Lusch