SWOYERSVILLE — Sporting white ankle socks and black dance pumps with a Cuban heel, Kevin Costley, of Plymouth, divided his time on a recent Thursday evening between the backstage area at Music Box Dinner Theatre, where he is overseeing the making of costumes, and the stage itself, where he is rehearsing a major role in “La Cage aux Folles.”
Yes, that means he’s super busy.
“But I’m as happy as I could be,” he said with a grin.
“Albin is the sweetest character I’ve ever played,” Costley added. “He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s a gentle soul. Even when he’s angry, his anger is nothing to be afraid of.”
If you’re wondering what could make gentle Albin see red — or if not red, at least hot pink — it would be that Jean-Michel, the young man he helped raise, wants him to step out of the picture for a while, just until after the ultra-conservative parents of Jean-Michel’s fiancee come to visit.
Jean-Michel doesn’t want them to know his father, Georges, owns a gay nightclub, and his other father, Albin, is the most flamboyant entertainer there.
“When you get down to it, it’s about acceptance, just accepting people for who they are,” said Chris Laundry, 40, of Wilkes-Barre, who portrays the night club manager.
Jean-Michel’s fiancee, Anne, would be ready to embrace all of his family, said Marissa Moku, 17, of Shavertown, who plays the young woman. “She would love anyone attached to him.”
But her parents are a different story. You can imagine the hilarity that ensues when Albin greets them dressed as a woman, Jean-Michel’s “mother.”
There’s a lot of cross-dressing in the show, including Les Cagelles, a group of drag performers who back up Albin in his persona as Zaza.
“I’ve taught boys to dance. I’ve taught girls to dance,” choreographer Bernie Vojtko said. “This is the first time I’ve ever taught men to dance like women.”
Hoofers in the cast say she’s doing a great job.
“It’s the hardest dancing I’ve ever done,” said DJ Natt, 25, of Plains Township.
It is challenging, Jonathan Wallace, 22, of Trucksville agreed. But, he added. “This is the first show I’ve enjoyed dancing in. Bernie is a wonderful choreographer.”
While Bernie Vojtko is in charge of the dancing, her husband, Larry, is the musical director. The two met 35 years ago when they were both involved with “The Apple Tree,” which was Music Box’s third show.
“We’re all ‘first years’,” said T. Doyle Leverett, the director, recalling he portrayed Judd, the menacing handyman, in the Music Box’s first-ever show, “Oklahoma.”
Costley and set designer Michael Gallagher round out the founding members of the Music Box Dinner Theatre who are involved with this show, 35 years later.
And the Vojtkos’ son, Jonathan, 23, of Wilkes-Barre, plays Jean-Michel in “La Cage.” He has to strike a balance, he said, between “the charm a romantic lead should have and the pain the he’s causing.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT
IF YOU GO
What: ‘La Cage aux Folles’
Where: Music Box Dinner Playhouse, 196 Hughes St., Swoyersville
When: Sept. 9 to 25 with performances 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Dinner served 90 minutes before showtime
Tickets: $18; $35 with dinner