(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) – La Belle Epoque, an original depression-era cabaret musical by Heather Fisch, will be staged at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Saturday, August 10, 2013, at 8pm. The show, featuring chorus girls, live music, slapstick comedy, and choreography, is both a revival of and homage to the old vaudeville style for which the Mahaiwe Theatre was first constructed.
According to Fisch, La Belle Epoque is inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, The Little Mermaid and the mystical tarot. “The show offers viewers an array of symbolic through-lines,” says Fisch. “People are invited to read into their own subconscious minds or to simply enjoy the story and the visions floating by.”
The show features recurring characters from Fisch’s 2011 solo-show Curbstone Follies and is performed by a three-man cast who swap identities, costumes and musical instruments like they were playing cards. In addition, Fisch has roped in a travelling group of chorus girls, the Bay Bridge Burnettes, to perform alongside them in the show. As is thematic of Fisch’s works, viewers are challenged to access their deepest selves while cradled by the safety net of comedic absurdism.
Creating the full score of original live music was a collaborative effort between Fisch and internationally renowned composer and musician Jonathan Talbott. These two, plus old-timey guitar virtuoso and absurdist performer Evan (Randall) Levine, produce haunting melodies and euphonic textures that fill the theater with vivid emotion and spark.
Fisch announced her new show along with the launch of her production company, The National Theater of Opera Nouveau; “The company is designed to help recreate a performing arts culture in this country like the one we had before the advent of the motion picture.” Fisch plans to indoctrinate viewers of La Belle Epoque with her vision for this new organization.
Indeed, much of Fisch’s work is characterized by her homage to the old vaudevillian style. I like the realness in vaudeville,” says Fisch, “with its frayed edges. It pre-dates the plastic-y, airbrushed un-reality of today’s typical entertainment.”
And in La Belle Epoque, Fisch uses the distance that fantasy allows to draw viewers closer the realness and rawness of human experience.