Saturday, August 20, 2016

Memo from The RTC: The Air Beneath a Soaring La Cage

Final weekend tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Arthur Goldstein and his family are coming tonight. We are sold out but there are always people who don't show - so I told some of my friends if they show up before 7PM and get on the wait list they have a good chance of getting in.

Great audience last night - I could tell from the first moments based on their responses. They got most of the jokes and were laughing and singing along. A standing O. I would say this is the most loved show

Photos by Rob Mintzes

Memo from The RTC: The Air Beneath a Soaring La Cage
By Norm Scott

Last Sunday night when I left the post matinee cast party thrown by the incredibly gracious Susanne Riggs and her husband John many members of the cast of La Cage Aux Folles were still frolicking in the pool. It was almost 9:30 and the non-locals, of whom there are many, still had a long trip home, some up to 2 hours. Many of them had arrived up to 2-3 hours before the 2PM show began to get their extensive make-up and hair done and do all the other essentials in the hours before the show goes on, thus spending 10 hours or more in each others’ company. Oy! You might say, but not to this crew.

So here are a group of performers and support people who make the show work from behind the scenes, many of whom had not met before the show began rehearsals almost 3 months ago seeming to not get enough of each other. Apparently bonding that makes super glue look weak has taken place. The cast and crew of La Cage Aux Folles, which is heading into its final sold-out weekend, are having a magnificent time. Some of the newcomers to the Rockaway Theatre Company say this has been the best experience of their performing careers – the support of the production team and their fellow performers has been taken to new heights. The evening shows end around 11PM and people are still mulling around an hour later, with whole batches going out to a diner after the show. I believe it is not only the opportunities to perform that attract so much high end talent to the far away reaches of the RTC at Fort Tilden but also the support and a bonding where life long friends are made and even some romances – if I tell you about those I have to kill you.

At every show members of the growing RTC alumni show up to see their colleagues perform and they are the very best of audience members, hooting and hollering and cheering everyone on. As an ensemble member I get to sit on the stage at 3 different points in the play and get to surreptitiously observe audience reactions. Even these RTC vets were blown away by Chazmond Peacock’s performance as Albin and raved about the antics of Matt Smilardi as Jacob.

The other night the front two rows were filled with teenagers who have been part of the RTC but are not in this show and they were so excited at what they were seeing, especially when the Cagelles, of mixed men and woman, all dressed up as women, were dancing. They were also there to cheer their friends from the Young People’s RTC Workshops:  Their amazing choreographer and dancer, Gabrielle Mangano, one of the Cagelles and herself a former teen RTCer, and a Kacie Reilly, recent grad of the young people’s workshop and one of the most elegant young dancers I’ve seen on stage. And of course the delightful Dante Rei (you’ll recognize him as his injuries in the show mount) who has aged out of his teen years into manhood so quickly but has not lost that sense of play he always brings to any show he is in.

Then there is quadruple threat (musician, singer, dancer, actress) Leigh Dillon (Anne), a soon to be senior in high school, who graduates to the main stage big time in this romantic grown-up role. Her fiancé, Jean-Michel, is played by the Dorian Gray-like Frank Caiati (now 30), who apparently has a portrait of himself hanging somewhere that is aging. Frank has been a driving force at the RTC since his teen years. When Anne and Jean-Michel in the show smooched it up, the giggling from the front rows couldn’t be contained. Seeing these wonderful kids, the future main stagers at the RTC who will be the Manganos and Caiatis of the future, being so into the theater is as exciting as anything the RTC has managed to accomplish.

I’ll have more to say about the other performers and the backstage crew in my final column on the show next week – at last you must be thinking- which I will write on the day after the show closes as I join Tony Homsey and crew in the sad task of taking apart the set (and beginning to build the next set for the Susan Corning directed “Wait Until Dark,” opening Sept 16 and running for only 2 weekends - so get your tickets early.)

Norm blogs at when he is not staggering out of cast parties.

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