Chennai thespian Michael Muthu presents his latest production, The Birdcage
In light of the recent Rainbow Pride march in the city, Michael Muthu’s choice of script for his upcoming play does seem apt. Popularly referred to as Mike, the veteran theatre artiste is excited about staging The Birdcage for the first time. Produced under his banner, Boardwalkers, this 100-minute play has been adapted from the American movie and the Franco-Italian film La Cage aux Folles. The plot revolves around the life of a young man whose parents are a gay couple — which becomes a problem when his girlfriend’s rather stuffy folks decide to visit. Mike shares, “We have set it in Chennai, in a middle-class home, while retaining parts from the original, such as a reference to John Wayne, as we know our audience will get it.”
With 30 years of theatre under his belt, it is no surprise that Mike has worked with most of the cast before. Do you deliberately pick actors who you know well? “An actor nowadays can only give me about four to five weeks of rehearsals for a play. So yes, it helps when the actor knows me and my working style,” he says. However, this time, out of the eight main characters, Suchitra Koliyot is a debutante, while it is Radha-krishnan Iyer’s first time with Boardwalkers.
Theatre artiste Sarvesh Sridhar will don the role of a flamboyant gay man for the first time, while Mike plays Robin Williams’ character from the movie. “The challenge is when my character has to speak in a shrieky voice and my natural bass has to be controlled!” says Sarvesh. Meanwhile, actor Gokul Anand — who is awaiting the release of two of his movies this year — plays the role of a rather brazen, gay butler, and promises us that he will be “waxed and hairless, sporting a crop top and shorts” on stage on show day. The cast also includes Roshan Poncha, Biggu Chandilya and Namita Krishnamurthy.
On English theatre in the city, Mike says, “My fear is that mediocre shows will chase away new audiences from becoming regular theatre goers — so we cannot afford to be laid-back.” Mike is also in the midst of the post-production drill of his directorial debut film, Theeviram, which is set to release soon.
On July 15 and 16, at Museum Theatre, Tickets at Rs. 200 onwards (for 16-years-old and above only).