I chatted this morning with three members of Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society about their production next month of La Cage aux Folles.
Based on a French play first performed in the 1970s, which also inspired the film The Birdcage, La Cage depicts the farcical chaos that results when a gay man attempts to pose as straight for the benefit of his son’s future in-laws. The main setting is a popular nightclub where female impersonator Albin – played by Mark Evans-Leigh – is the main attraction; Declan Wright plays Jean-Michel, the son whose future happiness appears to rely on the farcical deception; and Ian Scoging is Mercedes, one of the chorus line known as Les Cagelles.
Whilst it’s essentially a musical farce that SODS guarantee will have the audience laughing, crying and dancing in the aisles, Mark explained that it carries an overriding message too – namely the damage that outdated views can have on other people and the importance of allowing people to be who they are – encapsulated by one of the show’s best known songs, I am what I am.
We also talked about SODS’ amazing history, spanning over 120 years, together with their next show after La Cage – a stage version of Sister Act. Open auditions for the character of Deloris – played in the film by Whoopi Goldberg – are being held on 23rd March; to take part – or if you’re interested in joining SODS in another capacity on stage or behind the scenes – contact the Membership Secretary, Laura Mann.
SODS’ motto is “We take what we do seriously, but never ourselves,” and if Mark, Declan and Ian are anything to go by they certainly seem to manage it!
La Cage aux Folles is at the Palace Theatre in Westcliff from Wednesday 2nd to Saturday 5th April, with Thursday and Saturday matinees; tickets can be ordered from the box office on 01702 351135.