Casting a major Broadway musical – well, for any show, whether a musical or a drama – is no picnic.
A director generally conducts auditions to seek his talent. But he or she might have a trick or two and the Midas touch to secure his performers.
In John Rampage’s case – he is directing the Jerry Herman musical, “La Cage Aux Folles,” which opens Friday night (March 24) at Diamond Head Theatre – and lightning struck brightly for him, since he reaped his key performers largely from previous associations with the men and women he discovered.
In his director’s notes in the show’s playbill, DHT’s artistic director admits how his memory of previous alliances with his actors were factors in filling his dance card.
Andrew Sakaguchi, portraying the difficult trans part of Albin, was a youth actor who has matured marvelously, and sang “I Am What I Am,” a show-stopping anthem from the score, at a previous DHT Sunset Serenade during the pandemic.
So the tune already was in Sakaguchi’s repertoire and he starred in “Anything Goes,” the final show in DHT’s now demolished theater, which was the current season’s first show. Rampage approached Sakaguchi, without an audition; “I realized that he’s now the right age to take on this demanding, triple threat role,”, he says — and got not just a yea response, but a bonus offer to choreograph the show, too.
Tenor Guy Merola as Georges, the owner of the club La Cage Aux Folles and Albin’s longtime partner, had the right voice and previously played opposite Sakaguchi in a production, “so there was a natural connection between them,” says Rampage.
For the part of Jacqueline, who belts out “The Best of Times” with Albin in the show, it was easy. Shari Lynn, a pal of his who is one of the town’s musical gems, called to inquire if he’d consider her to repeat her performance (she did the part in a 2006 production). “I love having the chance to reminisce and joke with her during rehearsal breaks,” he says. Nothing like have good friends in the right places at the right time.
The part of Edouard Dindon went to Joe Martyak, who did a number of DHT shows prior to moving to Washington D.C. was sympatico, with a twist. Early rehearsals had to be done remotely. “No one that auditioned for Marie Dindon was quite what I was looking for, so I put on my thinking cap and gave a call to Kim Anderson,” says Rampage. Her last DHT show was “Charley and the Chocolate Factory,” in which she starred as Willie Wonka, which brought out her comedic skills, and despite the fact that her character doesn’t appear till Act II. Anderson – playing against type – will likely get some of the biggest laughs.
It’s always fun to cast the Cagelles – nine of them – to play the feathered, bejewelled night club showgirls;, three players identify themselves as women, not men in drag. So the audiences get the opportunity to sort out the he’s from the she’s …
Broadway grosses, for week ending March 19
“The Phantom of the Opera” and its music of the night composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber continues to be the blockbuster of Broadway, grossing over $3 million for the A week ending March 19.
The Phantom’s journey, for 35 years, will end April 16, when the chandelier will descend for the final time at the Majestic Theatre.
Here are the top seven shows and their box office figures, courtesy the Broadway League:
1 –“The Phantom of the Opera,” $3.25 million.
2 – “The Lion King,” $2.25 million.
3 – “Hamilton,” $2.15 million.
4 — “Wicked,” $2.04 million.
5 – “MJ,” $1.742 million
6 – “Sweeney Todd,” $1.679 million.
7 – “Harry Potter and the. Cursed Child,” $1.627 million.
And just a skosh behind: “Moulin Rouge,” $1.567 million, and “Jonas Brothers,” $155.6 million. …
The full list:
Broadway is buzzing with new arrivals, too.:
Just opened: “Parade,” “Bob Fosse’s Dancin’,” “Bad Cinderella,” “Sweeney Todd.”
In previews: “Life of Pi,” “Shucked,” “Camelot.”…
And that’s Show Biz. …