Lyrically speaking to the audience

December 4, 2012 10:00 AM

Fran Simon

The 2013 season of Summer Lyric Theatre at Tulane University will include the classic Kiss Me Kate, A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim, and La Cage aux Folles, the story of a drag queen named Zaza — a role dear to the heart of artistic director B. Michael Howard. He played that role himself on the Summer Lyric stage in 1991, the first time the company produced the popular Broadway show.

Luis Q. Barroso and B. Michael Howard

The first time Summer Lyric Theatre presented La Cage aux Folles, artistic director B. Michael Howard, right, played the starring role of drag queen Zaza opposite Luis Q. Barroso as Georges. (Photo from Summer Lyric Theatre)

For the upcoming season’s production, Howard says the role of Zaza will be played by “one of the best actors in New Orleans,” Bob Edes Jr., who played the butler Max in Sunset Boulevard and the Man in the Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone in recent Summer Lyric shows.

“We did a survey this past summer, and people’s No. 1 request was for us to revive La Cage,” says Howard. “It is the last of the American big, splashy musical comedies. It has feel-good music that evokes the golden years of Broadway.”

For Howard, the music is his first consideration when selecting the productions that will be staged by Summer Lyric Theatre.

Each season, the company mounts three musical theater productions over nine weeks.

As soon as one summer season concludes, Howard begins to plan which shows will be presented during the following summer.

“The three shows give you a big variety,” Howard says of the upcoming 46th season. “I always consider the difference in the sound of the music in each show.”

Howard says he doesn’t precast roles, but must consider the available talent — both professionals and students.  He anticipates with relish perennial favorite actress Elizabeth Argus singing “Send in the Clowns” as she stars in A Little Night Music.

When selecting the slate of shows, Howard gives audiences' preferences utmost consideration.

“In the past, I’ve done shows I don’t particularly care for. I choose for the audience,” Howard says. “After all, it is show business.”

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu