La Cage Aux Folles
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La Cage Aux Folles
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Based on La Cage Aux Folles by Jean Poiret
Starring: Gary Beach and Daniel Davis
Broadway at 46th Street
Also Starring: Gavin Creel, Angela Gaylor, Ruth Williamson, Michael Mulheren, Linda Balgord, John Shuman,
Michael Benjamin Washington
(And a Company of Dancers)
Directed by Jerry Zaks
Choreographed by Jerry Mitchell
Music Director: Patrick Vaccariello
Set Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Donald Holder
Sound Design: Peter Fitzgerald
Hair & Wig Design: Paul Huntley
Casting by Jim Carnahan, CSA
Production Managers: Arthur Siccardi, Patrick Sullivan
Original Orchestrations: Jim Tyler
Additional Orchestrations: Larry Blank
Dance Music Arrangements: David Krane
Music Coordinator: Michael Keller
General Manager: 101 Productions, Ltd.
Press Representative: Barlow*Hartman
Production Supervisor: Steven Beckler
Associate Producers: TGA Entertainment,
Leni Sender, Bob Cuillo, Kathi Glist
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 15, 2004
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
Now here's a play about Family Values - And, it deserves at least a dozen Tonys, including best revival of a musical and including choreography (Jerry Mitchell). No matter that the family consists of a drag queen dancer, the owner of the transvestite Club, La Cage Aux Folles, and a son affianced to the daughter of the head of the Tradition and Morality Party. This family loves each other, and the "father", Daniel Davis as Georges, and the "mother", Gary Beach as Albin, love their pony-tailed Jean-Michel (Gavin Creel), who is engaged to Anne (Angela Gaylor). When it's time to meet the new in-laws, mayhem breaks loose, and the hilarious maid-butler (Michael Benjamin Washington) helps to re-decorate the erotic décor to suit the conservative and religious visitors. The French Riviera apartment over La Cage becomes a quasi-Sistine Chapel.
But, the plot is quite secondary to the dancing and music, which are so effervescent, so energetic, so engaging, so elicit, and so entertaining that you do not want this performance to end, never, never, as the audience stands at the finale and claps and sings with this song and dance chorus to "The Best of Times", a positive and powerful tune, equaled by "I Am What I Am", Albin's signature tune. And, sets and costumes are so exotic, colorful and shining and so, so French! The sets of the interior apartment are suggestive of the Club downstairs. The waterfront cafés change lighting with mesmerizing magnificence. Jacqueline's (Ruth Williamson) sophisticated restaurant-Club is just what Paris is known for.
But, the visual highlights of the show occur in the show tunes and dances with the Cagelles, and the feathered fans, brilliantly colored boas, slivers of silver, and LaDuca Shoes are absolutely exciting to behold. You would not at first know these dancers are men (if you've had a few glasses of Chianti, as I had, prior to the evening show), and their fully exposed legs are shapely in fishnet and silk. How disarming, when they sing like men! How alarming, when they somersault en air and split and catapult around the stage like young, female gymnasts. How enchanting, when they unroll from iron sets, with unfolding red feathers that sweep the stage with surrealism. Rockettes and Moulin Rouge in drag!
Gary Beach, as Albin, exuded confidence and vulnerability and class and resilience. This is one great character actor with a good voice and versatility. Daniel Davis as Georges was so butch at times that he was seriously sexy. He could swing from man of the moment as father of the groom to man of the moment as Albin's lover and protector in the wink of an eye. And, he has the throaty vocalization so intrinsic to the French. Gavin Creel as Jean-Michel could eliminate the ponytail, which confuses his role. But, his final scene was charming and well presented. Angela Gaylor as fiancée Anne seemed a bit overplayed, and Ruth Williamson as Jacqueline, the restaurateur with clout, was well cast and cleverly coy.
Michael Benjamin Washington as Jacob the maid is a "designer" character, so stylized, so exquisite. Michael Mulheren and Linda Balgord as the "traditional parents" fell into some surprise scenes, and the whip-slashing and dress-posing characters completed the theatricalities of this show. However, it was Jerry Mitchell's charismatic choreography, Jerry Zaks' dynamic directing, Jerry Herman's memorable music and laugh-filled lyrics, and Harvey Fierstein's brilliant book that created the core of this bravura extravaganza.
Do NOT miss La Cage Aux Folles at Marquis Theatre. And, drink a bit of Chianti before the show. You will be drawn into a Broadway music and dance illusion.
Photo by Carol Rosegg