By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Nancy Nolan | Produced by Ellen Scruggs | Makeup by Aaron Perkins with Face Your Day Studios | Wardrobe by Rafael Castanera | Shot on location at Argenta Community Theater
The essence of community theater is community… It showcases local talent and moments that are unique to each performance. At its best, community theater inspires and strengthens a collective sense of belonging among its constituents – cultivating fellowship and understanding. Argenta Community Theater continues to offer these kinds of performances by and for our community; engaging with organizations to improve the landscape of Central Arkansas.
In this year’s production of La Cage aux Folles, Brandon Box-Higdem steps into the spotlight as the witty and whimsical Zaza. He brings this larger-than-life character to the stage later this month and shares a wonderfully contemporary perspective of family values and fun.
Brandon admits to “being a sort of ‘put down your roots’ kind of guy” and deliberately established his home in Arkansas nearly a decade ago. His Midwestern charm resonates as he recounts his love affair with theater. “I made a choice to leave the gypsy lifestyle of acting to find opportunities in theater that creatively feed my soul.” He credits the encouragement of his parents and teachers to his success and longevity in the industry, and shares his passion for performance with the next generation of talent as the director of forensics at North Little Rock High School.
Brandon noticed Argenta Community Theater while he was working in Omaha. With a little luck and a lot of talent, he performed in Argenta Community Theater’s inaugural production of Cabaret as Emcee – notably a “bucket list role” for him. He has served as a creative consultant for other productions and continues his pursuit of perfection in La Cage aux Folles. “Character development, as a creative process, is paramount to the success of the story,” Brandon explains. “Putting on stilettos and walking in those shoes, figuratively and literally, means exploring emotions and real feelings.” He adds, “I approach every character with a sense of strength, depth and dimension. Theater is no place for timidity. Make BIG choices and have FUN!”
La Cage aux Folles is a timeless story of family, love and acceptance – with a definite dash of comedic antics. Better recognized from the movie adaptation The Birdcage, the plot celebrates the transformative power that love and acceptance can have on overcoming conflicting ideals. Brandon assures that this production will feature lots of laughs and a toe-tapping good time. The wardrobe, co-designed and developed under the creative expertise of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Production Manager, Rafael Castanera, is as highly anticipated as the show itself. His partnership in the project represents the collaborative nature of a community theater. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of the production,” notes Rafael. “La Cage aux Folles is a funny and moving story that serves as a reminder for the ages. It proved epic in the 1983 Broadway premiere and is still relevant today.”
Argenta Community Theater was established through the vision of Judy Tenenbaum and Vincent Insalaco and his late wife Sally Riggs Insalaco. It has become a beacon in Central Arkansas for professionalism and civic leadership as well as a nurturing place for the arts and artist. Its inclusive nature provides summer camps for children, opportunities for the developmentally disabled and brings support of other arts organizations into finite focus. “Vincent and Judy approach every event, production and person with immeasurable respect, and encourage others in their theater to do the same,” attests Brandon. He’s thrilled, but not surprised, that Argenta Community Theater is presenting La Cage aux Folles; it blends seamlessly into the organization’s mission fulfillment work. “It’s a message that endures as the definition of ‘family’ evolves. At the very core of this musical, and any lasting relationship, is simply respect; providing an environment for children to grow and learn.”