Monday, September 10, 2007

La Cage Aux Folles

I saw the original movie when it first came out and have loved the story in its various renditions since (though I am still partial to the original). I've never seen the musical, but I wanted to commemorate it today for two reasons.

First is to celebrate the performance by high school students in Orlando, despite Bishop Howe's eleventh hour attempt to cancel the event after months of rehearsal and preparation. The arts community helped them find another theatre once they were prohibited from using school property. The result was a standing room only performance.

Second, I was talking to my mother about it today for some reason, and I discovered that the show had a special significance for her, as well. Years ago she started attending a dinner theater in the Chicago suburbs with a friend she had known from high school but with whom she had little contact in the intervening years after she married and had children and her friend remained single and worked in the city. I knew all about the season tickets they had together but, until today, I never knew how it was that they started going together.

It turns out that my mother's friend previously had the tickets with another woman until one year when the series included La Cage Aux Folles. The other woman was angry and upset over its inclusion and the fact that my mother's friend decided to go alone to see it anyway. So suddenly my mother's friend had an extra ticket for the rest of the season, and she offered it to my mother.

What is remarkable about this story (to me, at least) was that this was what rekindled their friendship and gave my mother the means to attend the theater with some regularity long after she was unable to go to the theater or concerts in the city or anywhere on her own -- something she enjoyed very much until her friend died last year of breast cancer. In hindsight it seems like kind of a sign pointing towards what was later initially very difficult for my mother -- accepting her niece's relationship with another woman and having them visit her and stay in her home. While things were fine once they all met, she had a really rough time beforehand, spending much time on the phone with me trying to work through her conflicted feelings. It's nice to think now in hindsight that maybe the dawning of her tolerance and understanding may have come from La Cage many years before. In any event, it brought her back to her old high school friend and brought them several years of renewed friendship and lovely theater afternoons.