The Golden Cage
A Two-Character Fantasy Musical by Deborah Henson-Conant
Would you rather be trapped in a beautiful cage …
or have wings but no place to land?
The Golden Cage is a two character fantasy musical about a mythical Birdman who’s searching for the perfect security of a golden cage – and the woman who’s been stuck inside that cage forever.
“Deborah Henson-Conant’s genius is on full display in her stunning musical THE GOLDEN CAGE. A musical and lyrical masterpiece, the score is deeply satisfying in its harmonic inventions that will remind you of both Sondheim and Guettel – but is truly the composer’s own unique voice. The lyrics and the dialogue are expertly woven into this two-person musical that will delight sophisticated audiences”. Paul Gordon, composer/writer of Broadway’s “Jane Eyre” and “Daddy Long Legs”
About the Show
It’s not exactly your conventional woman-meets-man story.
Consider: Birdman is blown by a storm to a mountaintop, where he meets the ultimate in her golden cage carved into a 500,000-foot-high granite cliff.
Weary of his wanderings, the half-man, half-bird schemes to take possession of her home. He rips the bars from her cage, coaxes her to the top of the mountain and … pushes her to her death.
Then he gloatingly takes up residence. A safe home at last! But wait – now he’s the one who can’t get out.”
The struggle between freedom and security is timeless and universal, but today as whole ethnicities are defined as insiders or outsiders, Alphea and Boris epitomize the experience of isolation through mistrust of others – and ourselves.
The golden cage represents the division between people who’ve lost sight of how deeply alike they are – and the hope that can discover both freedom and security through our connection to each other.
Hear a Scene from the Show
(TBF – this is the 5-Minute audio sample to accompany the Live Arts Boston (LAB) Grant Application)
Meet The Characters: Boris & Alphea
Alphea J. Simpson-Hughes is a melodramatic diva who can’t remember how she became imprisoned, and tries on different costumes to suit her mood.
VOICE RANGE: Soprano/Mezzo (or Tenor/Baritone if played by a male)
BODY-TYPE, AGE, RACE, EHNICITY: Irrelevant
Stage, Costumes & Basic Tech
SETTING & STYLE: The play takes place in a time out of time on a remote mountaintop, above, around and inside a Golden Cage which is built into a craggy cliff, 500,000 feet in the air.
The inside of the cage is filled with shelves, nicknacks, costumes, marble collections, wigs, bottles, instruments and books – and in the middle of the cage is an immense desk.
COSTUMES: Boris is a birdman, with bright red feathers, wings, tail and small but impressive crest. Alphea changes costume to fit her mood, pulling on a Wagnerian breastplate, a Marie-Antoinette wig filled with hair curlers, an apron, a sword, etc. Later she has her own wings, tail and crest.
SET: Single unit set
ORCHESTRA: Piano (or piano, cello & drums)
PRODUCTION HISTORY: Currently in development through readings and feedback sessions with Paul Gordon, writer/composer of Broadway’s “Jane Eyre” and “Daddy LongLegs,” and his creative team.
RUNNING TIME: Approximately 75 min without intermission
In the Studio
This is a video of the recording session with Teresa Winner Blume playing Alphea and Tim Maurice on Piano, in a recording session of “Alphea’s Story” in 2017.
About the Creator
Deborah Henson-Conant is a Grammy-nominated composer and performer whose work combines story and music. Her works range from one-woman operas and song cycles, to musical theater, suites and concertos.
She’s premiered dozens of her own works for electric harp, voice and orchestra with both regional and national orchestras including Pittsburgh Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Tacoma Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic. She’s performed her original one- woman musicals at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Kennedy Center, Boston’s Lyric Stage and Central Square Theater.
She collaborated in the development of the world’s top-selling electric body-harp which is named after her, the “DHC,” designed and manufactured by the French CAMAC harp company.
Her creative mentorship program “Harness Your Muse” supports performers in developing new solo projects combining theater and music. Her online Academy, with over 1000 members, provides training in musical performance and improvisation.
Her residencies include collaborations with students, faculty and dance departments. Her cross- discipline collaboration project with scientists, dancers and journalists, “Inviting Invention” was a feature of the Cambridge Science Festival and her words-and-music project “Strings of Passion” is used in audience outreach.
Her original solo symphonic show, “Invention & Alchemy” appeared on PBS stations throughout the US and the CD garnered a Grammy Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album.
Her operatic works for soprano and chamber ensemble were the focus of Boston University’s “Mythic Women” project in 2014 in collaboration with the chamber ensemble department. Her concertos “Soñando en Español” and “Baroque Flamenco” are performed by harp soloists with orchestras worldwide. [Photo above by Chehalis Hegner-Ganson]