BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE Opens Today at the Broward Stage Door Theatre
The reviews for Leonard Gershe's Butterflies Are Free were unanimously raves when it opened on Broadway in 1969, and the play ended up winning a number of awards that season. The play focuses on Don Baker, blind since birth, whose over-protective mother is forced to come to terms with her son's bid for independence when he sets up in a Manhattan apartment on his own. He soon makes the acquaintance of his off-the-wall, liberated, actress neighbor Jill. Don learns the kind of things from Jill that his mother would never have taught him! And Jill learns from Don what growing up and being free is really all about.
"What drew me to Butterflies Are Free, aside from it being extremely charming and very funny, was the way it highlights how deceptive our perception of people with disabilities can be," Leeds explains. "While the young man in the play is blind, his problem is not how he sees the world but rather how the world sees him. Gershe deftly makes the point that in their way, the young man is far less handicapped than his mother, who is deaf to what her son really needs, and the young woman who starts out emotionally crippled but blossoms through their relationship."
Leeds and Broward Stage Door Theatre Artistic Director Derelle Bunn have assembled a talented cast of local and New York actors to inhabit Gershe's characters. "Aside from earning numerous Tony and Oscar nominations, the play was responsible for introducing Blythe Danner to Broadway audiences and the inimitable Goldie Hawn in the film," Leeds says. "And I'm lucky to have an equally talented young actress, Gina Marie Jamieson to play the lead opposite Britt Michael Gordon.
"Eileen Heckert won an Oscar for her portrayal of the acerbic mother," he continues. "And Brook Packard has the same gift of delivering the biting humor while somehow remaining extremely likeable. Andy Quiroga, whom I've worked with twice before, rounds out our ensemble as a self-absorbed theatre director. (Personally, I don't believe they exist but there you have it!)".
"And by the way," Leeds adds, "The young man in Butterflies Are Free is a struggling song-writer, and the song he sings in the play was written by a young up-and-comer - named Stephen Schwartz!"
Actor Britt Michael Gordon continues to discover unexpected depths in his role as Don Baker as he works through the production's rehearsal process. "I've fallen in love with this play," he says. "I'm finding there's a lot more to it than people might assume. I don't believe that Butterflies Are Free is only about blindness as a physical disability. I think the play is about our ability as human beings to see past the surface of any individual, which, regardless of whether you're sighted or not, is a difficult, yet essential part of life. Butterflies Are Free is teaching me how to see past the surface of those around me. It's teaching me to how to have faith in myself and others. And finally, Butterflies is teaching me to trust, even when I have no reason to."
Butterflies Are Free will run from August 1st - September 14th at The Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs. The theatre is located at 8036 Sample Road, in Coral Springs.
Tickets for Butterflies Are Free are $38 - $42; $16 student tickets are also available. Tickets may be purchased at the Broward Stage Door Theatre box office at 954-344-7765 or on line at http://www.stagedoorfl.org.
For more information about Butterflies Are Free and/or The Broward Stage Door Theatre, please visit www.stagedoorfl.org.