Dream of the Marionettes continues through Nov. 13

by Dominick Cross

Dream of the Marionettes, or Le Rêve des Marionettes, is an original musical production being performed at Cite des Arts.

It was less than a week out from the opening night fundraising prequel, when the cast of “Dream of the Marionettes” hastily moved rehearsal from Cite des Arts in Downtown to Asbury United Methodist Church on Johnston.

Well, the run-through wasn’t in the church itself, but in the fishbowl foyer in the kids’ building of the campus. Lightning, rain or even the ominous blinking lights of a tow truck in Asbury’s parking lot could not break the focus of this troupe.

Asbury came though to assist because a fire in the former Evangeline Hotel, now the Evangeline Elderly Apartments, led to the juice having to be cut in the building for a few days during repairs.

No injuries in the fire, thankfully, but the rehearsal had to be held elsewhere because Cite, located down the 300 block of Jefferson at 109 Vine, is connected to the old hotel.

So, of course, rehearsal went on because the show must go on.

And it continues to do so at Cite next weekend, Friday and Saturday, (Nov. 11-12) at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday (Nov. 13), 2 p.m. Go here for tickets.

In the meantime, a Runaway Dish/Stage Backers funder, “Dinner and a Dream,” was held Oct. 25 with a foretaste of ‘Marionettes’ the main attraction. That’s something not lost on Christy Leichty, who with Johanna Divine, co-wrote ‘Marionettes’ in 2009.

“They’re awesome people,” Leichty said of Stage Backers. “For small theater groups in this town, they are a Godsend.” Stage Backers help give local productions, via financial assistance, the opportunity to say “break a leg,” so to speak.

So the dinner went over well. And the performers now have a full weekend of ‘Marionettes’ under their corsets and garters, including opening night where proceeds went to the projects of three of the performers who’ve passed away – Jillian Johnson (The Victory Garden), David Egan (Dreamer’s Fund) and James Hamby (Second Harvest).

In fact, Leichty and Divine are giving a heartfelt shout-out to the cast of the first ‘Marionettes’ run by acknowledging them in the program this version’s.

“They gave to us so much. I just feel like you’ve got to acknowledge that I didn’t do this by myself; Johanna didn’t do this by herself,” said Leichty, who is directing and acting in ‘Marionettes.’ “We had all these people contribute all kinds of time and energy and effort to make it come to life. Theater is not a one-person activity. Usually, it’s a team.

“It’s a family experience,” she said. “It’s a community experience.”

Note: If you’re thinking the burlesque-inspired musical sounds familiar, or, if you’re wondering if it’s a Throwback Thursday déjà vu all over again social media clap trap like-and-share covenant, you’d only be half correct.

And that correct portion would be where ‘Marionettes’ sounds familiar because the campy musical has been here before. It played to sold-out houses in 2009 and 2010 in Lafayette and was selected for both the New Orleans and New York International Fringe Festivals in 2010.

But why? you may ask. Why do it one more time?

Well, sometime during the summer after a swim, the playwrights Leichty and Divine took another look at their play.

“And we had just both revisited the script and decided that it was really funny and we both wanted to do it again,” said Leichty. “So, that’s why – it was such a great experience the first time around - we just figured we were ready to tackle it again.”

Divine credited Leichty as being “the anchor this time around,” she said. “She’s had a strong vision for the cast and making some changes in the dynamic of the show. Certainly, it’s a completely different show. It’s a different cast. We have different musicians.

Divine, a solid singer/songwriting and musician, is working and performing with the band.

“I’ve been really following Christy’s lead as far as what’s going to tie-in best with the new cast,” said Divine. “We’ve added a couple little scenes. It’s a different show. Again, I’ve been following Christy’s lead this time around. She’s directing me in addition to everybody else.”

In a nutshell, “Dream of the Marionettes,” also known as “Les Marionettes,” a despicable puppetmaster is cast aside by his lively band of marionettes, which begin to explore their hidden dreams and unlikely aspirations.

Although it’s seven years old, it remains a timely piece, according to the director.

“I think what’s very exciting and appropriate about doing this play now is due to the fact that this is kind of an irreverent, kind of feminist play,” said Leichty. “In light of our sort of political climate right now where there’s a lot of discussion about the way we treat different genders – especially, women.

“It’s a silly comedy,” she said. “But it does illustrate some situations where women are put down.”