Comical Rigoletto's head is in the clouds.
A bumbling and clumsy chef and maitre d' in his own restaurant, he is the lead character in Le Cirque Centre's new theatrical circus show.
"He's disconnected from the people," says Le Cirque artistic director and choreographer Lorenzo SantaBarbara. "He seats customers at the wrong tables and serves them the wrong food. Finally, his customers stop returning, and he is left with an empty restaurant."
Set in southern Italy, Rigoletto struggles to keep his business open despite the brouhaha created by his biggest patron, Antonio, and a gang of other disgruntled customers.
"Finally sad and despondent, Rigoletto hears a voice telling him to change his ways ... 'to follow the fettuccine noodle,' " SantaBarbara says. "The answer to his problems will be at the end of the noodle."
So the young restaurateur sets out to make a personal change.
The Empyrean Aerialists of Le Cirque Centre will present "Fettuccine: A Time for Laughter" at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Ashland High School's Mountain Avenue Theatre, 201 S. Mountain Ave. Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and $10 for students, and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or Music Coop, 268 E. Main St. Call 541-301-6804 for information.
SantaBarbara says that his thing is all about being the clown. It's his inspiration for the shows that he produces for his students.
"I can be intense when it comes to rehearsals, but generally, I'm the guy who comes in and lightens up a situation. Cirque de Soleil uses clowns to keep the story moving forward, and Rigoletto is the clown in this show. He is the thread that keeps the idea, the storyline, together. He and his customers move through the show on rope, trapeze, silks, cube, on the floor and more."
Look for lots physical comedy and heavy face makeup, he says.
"This is the first time there's a real balance in what I've been trying to develop in the Rogue Valley," SantaBarbara says. "It's multi-dimensional theater, where the drama is in the air on ropes, trapeze and fabric, and on the floor. It's physical acting, athletics, acrobatics, and it involves several modes of presenting theater ... more than any other show I've done at Le Cirque."
The circus academy's Empyream Aerialists, a troupe of professional-level dancers and aerialists, make up the cast of characters in "Fettuccine: A Time for Laughter."
Alex Webb plays Rigoletto; Miykael Moore plays Antonio; and Sophia Hajje plays Rigoletto's love interest, Rose. Sequoia Snogren-McGinnis, Katie Mason, Hannah Doyle, Celeste VanAusdall, Keona Hajje, Zea Mindling-Wefling, Sonora Jessup and Sofia Lindauer round out the troupe. Lighting and sound at AHS are provided by Doug Ham.
"I would call this show very interactive," SantaBarbara says. "I learned this style from working with Alwin Nicholais in New York City. He produced what I called 'total theater,' and what I call 'multi-dimensional material' here. He was interactive with his dancers. That's how he put shows together."
The show began taking its form at a rehearsal when Webb joked that the show should be called "Fettucine."
"Everyone laughed," SantaBarbara says. "But I took the idea home and decided that's what it would be called. Then we decided to do a show to make audiences laugh, a show to distract from the seriousness of our country's political situation. The show's direction was created by me and the students. They became very interested in the aspects of physical acting, and I started choreographing scenes. The athleticism, the storyline and the acts all came together in a ridiculously funny show."
The story culminates with an ending right out of the television series "The Wonderful World of Disney."
"The show will certainly touch kids' funny bones, and adults will laugh as well," SantaBarbara says. "It's meant for all ages."