For Immediate Release
May 4, 2016
Los Angeles, CA
Contact: Krystel Gapasin
East West Players Partners with the Los Angeles LGBT Center
in Upcoming Musical Production of La Cage Aux Folles
East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center (Center) partner in a perfect pairing of art and social justice in the upcoming production of La Cage Aux Folles, the beloved musical with book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, opening Wednesday, May 18, and running through Sunday, June 26, 2016.
“Since the first day of rehearsal, six ‘at risk’ interns from the Center’s youth programs have been with us learning about all aspects of production. For many of them, working at East West Players will be their first job and the first credit on their resume,” said EWP producing artistic director Tim Dang. “I am proud that EWP is involved in conversations about the significant role arts can play in shaping the lives of the next generation. We’re striking right at the core of arts education by creating pipelines, access, inclusion, and diversity with this program. If we can do it, all other arts organization should be able to do the same.”
The six interns are paid by the Los Angeles County Youth Jobs Program through the UCLA Community Based Learning Program and managed by the Center. The interns will participate in all aspects of theatre and event production. They will also have the opportunity and responsibility of managing their own La Cage Aux Folles experience in a “public” outdoor venue (the Aratani Courtyard of East West Players at the Union Center for the Arts) for our audience and the diverse communities who live, work and visit downtown Los Angeles and Little Tokyo.
“To confront the discrimination that still exists in 2016, whether in North Carolina, Mississippi, or even here in Los Angeles, LGBT youth have learned to cope and survive, often through their own creativity and without the support of families, friends, or employers. This collaboration with East West Players has encouraged them to use that creativity to help bring La Cage Aux Folles to the stage and in the process, learn not only to survive but to thrive,” said Center chief of staff Darrel Cummings. “This is the kind of collaboration and project that not only develops skills that lead to future employment opportunities, but instills a sense of self-worth and changes lives for both these young people and the show’s audience.”
During the early 1970’s when the play La Cage Aux Folles was written, out LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people were stereotyped, faced discrimination, alienated from their families, and denied employment. In fact, often the only safe places that provided any employment and support were within bars and dance clubs. This was especially true for those who were “gender non-conforming” or transgender. Bars and clubs, like the ones depicted in La Cage Aux Folles, provided some refuge to a few and helped create a community that would eventually fight for and achieve civil rights and the freedom to marry. In a time where the US, a nation of immigrants, is debating whether we should allow refugees into this country, this play and its fostering of dialogue takes on new importance.
Unfortunately, even in 2016, the benefits of such progress do not extend to all. LGBT youth make up a startling 40% of homeless youth and are disproportionately youth of color and transgender youth. These youth suffer from the very kinds of discrimination faced by those working at and frequenting La Cage Aux Folles. They face family rejection, violence, police harassment, lack of employment opportunities, and general discrimination.
“Can a very disenfranchised population, learn, grow and excel (and even transform) through the arts? From a very young age, these youth have learned to survive through creativity and assuming roles in order to conform to society. They have had to create fiction of their lives and relationships,” said Dang. “Is it possible to take these survival skills that have been developed as a result of oppression and translate them into something positive and self affirming in curating and creating for the “public” stage, a metaphor for being ‘out’?”
One hour before showtime, the outdoor stage will welcome dancing with music from divas of the likes of Donna Summer to Katy Perry to Beyonce. In the theater, a pre-show comic drag act will welcome audiences in to the world of La Cage Aux Folles fifteen minutes before curtain. Come early and be entertained.
All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Previews are Thursday, May 12 through Saturday, May 14 at 8pm and Sunday, May 15 at 2pm. All preview seats are $28.
Opening Night for La Cage Aux Folles is Wednesday, May 18 at 8pm and includes a 7pm pre-performance cocktail reception, and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team. Call theater for availability. “Pay-What-You-Can” Performance is on Thursday, May 19 at 8pm. A special talkback with the cast and creative team is on Sunday, May 29 immediately following the performance. The production runs until June 26.
Regular performances run Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213) 625-7000. Regular tickets range from $48-58. Student and Senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.
Special Event: Aloha Tim! Celebrate the final performances June 22-26 with outgoing artistic director Tim Dang with a Chinese buffet and drinks one hour before showtime Wednesday through Saturday night starting at 7:00PM. At the closing performance Sunday matinee, the buffet and drinks will occur after the performance with the cast/crew.