When it comes to playing colorful characters, Christopher Petersen is a known professional. The Canadian-born actor began his career 32 years ago, and he’s been coming to Rehoboth since 1989. Now, he’s back as he tackles three roles in Clear Space Theatre Company’s upcomiing "La Cage Aux Folles," opening Thursday, June 27.
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La Cage Aux Folles first opened in 1973, a French play dealing with family structure, love and alternative lifestyles. Interpreted and re-interpreted for both the screen and the stage, the play is most familiar to many people as the popular 1996 movie “The Birdcage,” starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
Forty years after the play first opened, Doug Yetter, artistic director for Clear Space, said, “The show maintains a relevancy that I appreciate,” and he's convinced the theme of what it means to be family is one that is still resonates.
When the musical version debuted in 1983, it was a glitz-and-glam show with all the trimmings: elaborate sets with lots of extras. Dot Neumann, a 37-year directing veteran and director of the Clear Space production, wanted to trim away the weight of a big production. “My biggest challenge,” Neumann said, “is to make it different and to find the humanity behind it.”
She said she is enjoying the challenge of this production. While the sets won’t be as complex and the extras perhaps not as abundant, there is no scrimping where the costumes are concerned. Petersen has no less than 10 costume changes, and he guarantees they are elaborate.
Peterson has an energetic buzz about him that instantly fills the room, and in talking about "La Cage Aux Folles," his passion is evident. The connection he feels with the main character runs deep. He’s doing his own costumes, and, he says, “I even get my own coffee!”
While he is in town working on the production, Peterson will also be doing performances of his one-man show, EYECONS, an ode to the Great Ladies of show business where he plays everyone from Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe to Julie Andrews and “the whitest Tina Turner you’ve ever seen.”
Clear Space Theatre Company’s "La Cage Aux Folles" opens Thursday, June 27, and runs through Thursday, Aug. 29. To purchase tickets for this show as well as EYECONS, The Sound of Music, and Radio Gaga, all running this summer at Clear Space Theatre Company, call 302-227-2270 or go to clearspacetheatre.org.
Tickets are $30; $25 for seniors and $15 for students.