Sixteen yrs back, the Arvada Middle staged the light, homosexual-welcoming musical comedy “La Cage Aux Folles” in its major, 500-seat mainstage theater at the incredibly similar time it was presenting a sequel to the well known barbershop revue “Forever Plaid” in its 200-seat studio theater following door. By the close of those people two simultaneous runs, 9,000 experienced attended “Plaid Tidings” in the small theater – 800 far more than all those who bought tickets to “La Cage” in the significant just one.
Quickly forward to 2023, and a new community creation of “La Cage Aux Folles” is getting staged in solidly crimson Littleton that bought much more advance tickets than any other exhibit in the company’s overall 2022-23 period – including Disney’s “Newsies.”
When Harvey Fierstein’s story about a loving, stable, lengthy-term gay couple (one particular of them a drag star) initial opened as a Broadway musical in 1983, it was accused of “mainstreaming homosexuality for mass consumption” – no doubt by folks who never ever bothered to see it.
But tolerance – and wonderful sequins – gained the day. The unique Broadway musical ran for additional than 4 a long time and has been revived twice. It influenced the 1996 runaway hit film “The Birdcage,” which produced $185 million at the box business office.
“No piece of theater has performed as substantially to increase gay self-esteem or inspire tolerance,” Michael Billington wrote of “La Cage” in The Guardian. “The show’s recognition confirms that theater has the potential not just to reflect social attitudes – but possibly even to change them.”
And but, for regardless of what explanation, Arvada Centre audiences in 2007 experienced no appetite for an in any other case relatively common passionate comedy that brings its closing curtain down on two men embracing each other and dancing into the sunset. Not so nowadays.
“La Cage” is taking center stage at a time when the queer community is all over again underneath organized duress from all sides. Loathe crimes against transgender men and women are spiking. States are advancing a document number of draconian charges that focus on LGBTQ rights, primarily transgender youth and drag queens, who are currently being met with protests even for studying healthful children’s books to younger persons at libraries. The ACLU is monitoring 452 anti-LGBTQ expenditures in the U.S., which includes one that is on keep in Colorado.
And nevertheless, Denver theater stages are presently loaded with extra concurrent queer-favourable stay theater offerings than possibly any other time in local history. None more substantial than the Denver Center’s national touring generation of “The Shade Purple” – which is rough storytelling terrain, but could possibly just be the most powerful staging I have seen in 20 years of observing Colorado theater.
Meanwhile, the Vintage Theatre in Aurora has undertaken its major manufacturing since “Angels in America” in 2010. It is “The Inheritance,” a two-element, six-hour participate in by Matthew Lopez (“The Legend of Georgia McBride”). It updates E.M. Forster’s novel “Howards Conclusion” as a treatise on gay lifetime for three generations of men in current-day New York. A critic for The Daily Telegraph identified as it “perhaps the most significant American play of this century.”
The Pop Up Theatre is presenting “Corpus Christi,” Terrance McNally’s celebrated play that tells the Biblical tale of a gay Jesus who meets his disciples in Texas.
The Grapefruit Lab is staging “Strange Chicken, Queer Hen,” an authentic and achingly beautiful tale of two queer strangers who discover really like from a safe length for the duration of the pandemic shutdown. The story is advised with an impacting underscore by the area indie band Teacup Gorilla alongside the choreographed dance of two human birds.
Elsewhere, a few University of Denver college students final yr launched the 2¢ Lion Theatre Enterprise, a troupe devoted to producing performs by LGBTQ+ artists. And the Arvada Centre has declared it will stage “The Laramie Project,” about the murder of gay higher education scholar Matthew Shephard, in September.
“Small, personal theaters in Colorado have evidently entered their queer era,” reported City Corridor Arts Center Internet marketing Manager Steven Burge. “And as the cruelty – both legislative, and just great aged-fashioned human-to-human bullying – continues to rise when it comes to liberty and human rights for queer people, I’m so grateful for it.”
Nonetheless, many of these productions are remaining staged underneath heightened protection following acquiring acquired threats – most of which, as the drag neighborhood is aware of all much too nicely, are sent from arranged, out-of-point out disruptors. Some firms are taking additional measures to guarantee the safety of performers from the instant they arrive right up until the second they depart.
Aaron Vega, curator of The People’s Creating that is web hosting “Corpus Christi” in Aurora, states, on stability, the present proliferation of queer theater “is a beneficial indication that ours is a welcoming group that embraces progressive suggestions. We want to assistance each and every other, particularly our marginalized communities, whoever that may well be at any supplied time.”
It is also a good indicator that there is a wholesome marketplace for these types of stories.
When Vega appears to be at the diverse lineup of titles remaining supplied, he sees they have two things in popular: “These are good stories,” he explained, “and they are common tales that everybody can relate to. They just occur to be advised by means of a queer lens.”
Burge’s hope is that no make any difference who you are, “if you appear to a queer theater tale, you will see someone on phase who is not terrifying and is worthy of adore and regard. If we can get to that spot as a modern society – a good deal of issues would change for a ton of persons.”