“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”.
About “The Golden Cage”
About “The Golden Cage”
A Two-Character Fantasy Musical by Deborah Henson-Conant
Boris – a fantastical half-bird, half-man character – has spent his entire life on a quest to find the elusive “Golden Cage,” the ultimate symbol of security in Birdman mythology.
When he finally finds it, carved into a 500,000-foot-high granite cliff, it’s everything he’s dreamt of … except for one thing: there’s a woman who’s trapped inside – and she, Alphea, says the cage is made of cement and iron.
After that: Murder. Illusion. Desire and Transformation – as the two discover the secret that traps you in the cage – and the only way you can escape.
The struggle between freedom and security is timeless and universal, the compulsion to strive … or to hide … are the human impulses that lead to both success and addiction.
Alphea and Boris epitomize the human experience of longing for security, getting trapped in isolation, unaware that freedom comes through connection to each other – and to who we each most deeply are.
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
RUNNING TIME: Approximately 75 min without intermission
ORCHESTRA: Piano (or piano, cello & drums)
SET: Single unit set
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 red birdman with wings, tail & 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 gold wings, tail and crest.
CURRENT PRODUCTION STATUS: Currently in development through NOMTI (New Opera & Musical Theater Initiative – Boston), readings and feedback sessions with Paul Gordon, writer/composer of Broadway’s “Jane Eyre” and “Daddy LongLegs,” and his creative team.
Video & Audio Clips
From studio sessions, workshops and readings.
“My House is Nice Like This”
(A Scene from a workshop reading)
Boris has nearly convinced Alphea she can escape the cave and fly, but when he breaks through the bars suddenly the cage looks completely different to Alphea – and now she wants to stay in it.
Below is a 5 minute downloadable AUDIO version of the scene above
Below is a YouTube clip of the musical excerpt with conceptualizations of the characters and scenes by artist Ellen LeBow
Recording “Alpheas’ Story”
with Teresa Winner Blume & Timothy Maurice.
“Humor Her Madness / Then at Last”
Realizing that Alphea is obsessed with the mystical, tragic nature of her imagined imprisonment in the cage, Boris realizes that he can use imagination to get her out of the cage – and he hatches a plan to do it.
More Audio Excerpts
About the Show’s 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]