It took me a few moments to recognize that the man dressed modestly in jeans and a sweatshirt was the same man I had seen a few nights before strutting across the stage dressed as Dorothy, Marilyn, and everything in between.
It takes 45 minutes in the makeup chair for Steven Gallagher to be ready for his first scene as the character Albin in Neptune’s production of La Cage Aux Folles.
Though the role as the romantic partner of a popular French nightclub owner — that she is also the star attraction of — takes a marathoner’s endurance, Gallagher proudly embraces divine exhaustion every night.
“This is literally the role of a lifetime for me,” he said.
“I never thought the role I would love the most would be that of an aging drag performer.”
With 25 years of acting experience behind him, Gallagher, who usually flocks to the classic roles of Shakespearian theatre, is awestruck by the reception La Cage has received during its run in Halifax.
“I’ve never had a reception to a show like this — the amount of love that is coming towards us every night is amazing,” he said.
“Thirty years ago it may have seemed more like you were going to the zoo and seeing all these oddities but now I think people are ready to have a show about a different kind of family.”
Through all the sequins, stilettoes, and subtle tucking, La Cage Aux Folles remains a heart-warming story of love and acceptance. Gallagher says it best.
“There is a message here — we’re not just a crazy farce.
“People may not know what to expect but by the end of it, people I see that start the show with their arms crossed embrace the show and perhaps the acceptance of homosexuality.”
“To be on that stage with that message in this show — it’s one of the proudest things I’ve ever done.