LAWRENCE – Kansas Repertory Theatre will present a summer of theatre with two plays exploring the world of female impersonation. The Kansas Repertory Theatre summer productions are “La Cage aux Folles” and “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”
Kansas Repertory Theatre performances of “La Cage aux Folles” are at 7:30 p.m. July 13, 19, 21 and 27 and 2:30 p.m. July 15 and 29. Performances of “The Legend of Georgia McBride” are at 7:30 p.m. July 14, 20, 26 and 28 and 2:30 p.m. July 22. The performances will share a set in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre at Murphy Hall, and some of the performers have also been cast in both shows.
“La Cage aux Folles” was written by Harvey Fierstein, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, and is directed by Missy Koonce, who has directed for the Unicorn Theatre, the Coterie Theatre, the Living Room Theatre and many others in the Kansas City area. “The Legend of Georgia McBride” was written by Matthew Lopez and is directed by Peter Zazzali, the artistic director for Kansas Repertory Theatre.
Zazzali, who is also an associate professor at KU’s Department of Theatre, said he wants to remind the community that these stories will be brought to life by a company of mostly professional actors and that as part of KU, the Kansas Repertory Theatre embraces the idea of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“This season’s selections speak to the creative and open-minded nature of the Lawrence community. Both deploy drag as a vehicle for transformation and personal growth,” he said. “They are packed with stunning cabaret numbers, comic genius and flashy spectacle toward delivering a pair of poignant stories about family. In the spirit of Kansas Repertory’s commitment to diversity and inclusion these stories remind of the importance of accepting people for who they are regardless of race, gender, age or sexual identity.”
The acting company includes Brian Miller, an equity actor who has appeared at a number of Kansas City’s professional theatres and will play Georges in “La Cage” and Eddie in “Georgia McBride”; Phil Fiorini, an equity actor who has worked extensively in Kansas City and throughout the country, including the national tour of “The Lion King,” will portray Albin in “La Cage” and the effervescent drag queen Tracy Mills in “Georgia McBride”; Lawrence resident and actor/director Doug Weaver will play Mr. Dindon in “La Cage”; Kansas City professional actor Duncan McIntyre will play Jean Michel in “La Cage” and Casey in “Georgia McBride”; Kansas City professional actors Laura Jacobs and Annette Cooke will respectively play Jacqueline and Mrs. Dindon in “La Cage”; Brandon Eisman, a Lawrence performer who is also known as the inimitable Deja Brooks, will play Rexy in “Georgia McBride”; the company will be rounded out by KU’s very own Noelle Olson as Anne in “La Cage,” Jakob Reitz as Jacob in “La Cage,” Gabrielle Smith as Jo in “Georgie McBride,” Leon Cambridge as Jason in “Georgia McBride” and Robert Crone, Courtney Crain and Spencer Gochis as the Cagelles in “La Cage.”
Missy Koonce has been a bar owner, cabaret singer, theatre producer, actress, choreographer and director. She wore many of these hats with Late Night Theatre and the Coterie Theatre. Most recently, she directed “Chainsaw, the Musical” for Kokopelli Theatre Company, “Young Frankenstein” at the White Theatre and “Milking Christmas” at The Living Room Theatre. Koonce’s credits also include co-directing and choreographing “Batboy,” “Heathers” and “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert,” directing “Hands on a Hard Body” and “Men On Boats,” and performing in “The Laramie Project,” “Hedwig,” “bare” and the one-woman show “Loving Lucy” at the Unicorn Theatre, as well as “Pride & Joy” and “Auntie Mame’d,” which were produced by Kansas City Artists Against AIDS.
Zazzali, who most recently played Gabriel York in the University Theatre’s production of “When the Rain Stops Falling,” has acted and directed in more than 150 productions with institutions such as the Acting Company, Guthrie, George Street Playhouse, Western Australian Academy for the Performing Arts, Queensland University of Technology, Kansas City Actors Theatre, Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg, NJ Repertory Theatre and the New Jersey, Texas and Utah Shakespearean festivals. He is a member of Equity, SAG and SDC.
Jake Fisher, a nationally recognized USISTD certified dance instructor from Lawrence, is the choreographer.
Ryan McCall, a KU staff member and professional musician, will serve as musical director.
Tickets for the Kansas Repertory shows go on sale June 13 at KU ticket offices and online at www.kutheatre.com. Tickets will also be available by calling the University Theatre, 785-864-3982, and the Lied Center, 785-864-ARTS. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff and $10 for KU students and children. All tickets are general admission.
Kansas Repertory Theatre is an arm of the University Theatre. Its mission is to provide the Lawrence community the unique opportunity to see professional repertory theatre each summer. It includes professional actors, graduate students and other performance students from national recognized training programs, as well as a select group of KU students. The productions share the same casts but are distinguished by designs, directorial concepts and texts.