La Cage Aux Folles
I was greeted with two pink feather boas as I entered the lobby of the State Theatre to watch La Cage aux Folles. A not so subtle hint for the theme of the production I was about to see.
La Cage is at the State Theatre running October 18th through the 23rd. The story revolves around Georges (George Hamilton) owner and M.C. of a notorious local gay club. As he tries to impress his future in-laws for the sake of his son, Jean Michel, (Billy Harrigan Thighe), he tries to restrain him and his flamboyant transvestite partner, Albin (Christopher Sieber), from ruining the relationship with their future daughter in-law’s parents-- her father, a conservative politician, that would close La Cage Aux Folles, if elected. Resulting hilarity ensues as they try to impress the parents but stick true to themselves. Some of the jokes didn’t make sense to me, but most of the content is pretty understandable for the average adult theatre-goer. Like the rest of the audience, I found the music to be enjoyable.
George Hamilton played the role rather well, and his asides were a highlight of almost any scene. He didn’t quite convince me in his character though. Perhaps it was the lines or perhaps it was his performance. I found his relationship with Albin to be, I don’t know, almost false. Most of the time, he was acting more like a nanny than a lover. Albin, on the other hand was like an annoying itch. Although I did enjoy his songs, my favorite performance of his was his heartfelt number “I Am What I Am,” at the end of the first act. Yet his acting annoyed me in the first act. He acted like a spoiled little kid. His acting in the second act was better, but perhaps that was just the nature of the dialogue. His character seemed like a stereotype. He was the big weepy Gay guy. It annoyed me. Yes, I understand that it was a comedy, but he always was at a breaking point. It left very little room for character development.
I was surprised with the number of musical numbers. In the first act, when you ignore the slight changes to the lyrics, there really are only about five numbers. You can’t say that “We Are What We Are” and “I Am What I Am” are entirely different numbers. (They are quite good songs though, my favorite song from the production.) The song lyrics were a weak point. (There is a number called “Look Over There”), but frankly no one really cares about the lyrics, there is just such a good energy transferred from the stage to the audience, and that is all that matters. The dancing was strange at points. Perhaps it is common at gay clubs for the performers to crawl around what looks a lot like a luggage cart, but I don’t really know. Otherwise the dancing was on par for a Broadway performance.
As I mentioned earlier, it has a great energy. It is pretty funny for most of the show. Not all of the jokes were that funny. Sometimes I was pretty sure the audience was laughing for the sake of laughing. I thought the sets were really pretty cool, with the backstage scenes. My favorite set was “the Promenade” which certainly felt like France. There is nothing really notable about the costumes except HOW MANY. The “Cagelles” must have changed perhaps half a dozen times. And that is in the chorus alone.
All in all, La Cage Aux Folles is a hilarious comedy with a decent cast and a great story. Though crude at points, it is a good performance. I do not believe it will be the highlight of this theatre season, but it certainly is a worthwhile ticket to a night out on the town (Feather boas optional.)