La Cage Aux Folles
The Best of Times, The Best of Shows
The award winning show “La Cage Aux Folles”, based on the book by Harvey Fierstein, was one of the best Broadway shows that I’ve ever seen. Quiet and heart warming. Boisterous and sorrowful. “La Cage” has it all. The Tuesday night opening at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota began with a stunning Drag Queen in full regalia humorously taunting the audience. The story told is simple. Two young lovers, Jean-Michel and Anne, become engaged to be married and want their parents to meet. The twist is that Jean-Michel’s parents, Georges and Albin, are gay men who own a famous drag club where Albin is the star Drag Queen. Anne’s parents are conservative and her father is a Senator. Craziness and heartbreak ensue as Jean-Michel and his parents try to suddenly recreate their family into something “socially acceptable” in time for dinner. Jerry Herman’s outstanding music and lyrics help tell the story of their plight to conform to conservative social morals.
I enjoyed St. Paul native Christopher Sieber in the role of Albin, Georges partner in show biz and in life. The way he stunned the audience into silence during his intense rendition of “I Am What I Am” truly shows why he was nominated for two Tony Awards. I liked the way that Mr. Sieber played his role as the more playful side of Albin, rather than a more whiny diva characterization. I didn’t like Cathy Newman as Madame Didon, the mother of Anne. She was far too quiet and regularly hid behind things and people. What I did like was how she played the character when she was drunk. I thought that the Cagelles were impressive at imitating how women move when they danced. The men were surprisingly good at dancing in heels and impressive when cartwheeling in wigs. My favorite dance scene took place at the La Cage Aux Folles, where the Cagelles danced in a giant birdcage in front of a background of blinking neon stars.
All of the technical aspects of the show worked together to create a fun and carefree, but meanigful atmosphere. The intricate costume designs for “La Cage” were a work of sparkly genius. Albin’s dress in “I Am What I Am” was truly magnificent. The shinning gold sequins and swirling black veils and lace were perfect for the sad, but defiant mood. “La Cage’s” set design was simple and did not distract from the show itself. I appreciated the minimalism of the white column arches, only two tables, and purple curtains hanging down on the sides of the arches to represent a restaurant during the song “The Best of Times”. The props were inspired. I especially enjoyed the use of a step ladder by Albin to climb down, with Georges help, from the arm of a couch where Albin seemed to be stuck. The lighting worked well to highlight important parts of the show. When Albin was alone singing “I Am What I Am” Georges came out from backstage. Albin remained lit with a spotlight. Georges was hidden in the dark, though he was still an integral part of the scene. It seemed symbolical to me.
I thought that “La Cage Aux Folles” was an impressive show technically and visually. Even though I found some of the secondary actors weak, as a whole I enjoyed the cast’s acting and singing. It was fun to see the acting icon George Hamilton in person! Because of the blatant sexual jokes, as a fourteen year old, I would suggest that this show might not be appropriate to anyone younger than twelve. Yes, I would recommend seeing this show. In fact I’m going again for the closing performance on Sunday!