Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Dance, diversity shine in Cabrillo Stage's fizzy, if uneven 'La Cage aux Folles'

In celebration of the end of DOMA, and the repeal of Prop 8, Cabrillo Stage launches its 2013 summer musical season with a lavish, light-hearted production of La Cage aux Folles. Based on the groundbreaking 1978 French film comedy, one of the earliest depictions in modern pop culture of a sympathetic gay couple in a long-term domestic relationship, the show was first produced in 1983 with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by the legendary Jerry Herman.

The Cabrillo production is directed and choreographed by CS veteran Janie Scott for maximum crowd-pleasing. The story is set in and around a popular drag nightclub in St. Tropez in the south of France, so there's plenty of opportunity for big, elaborate dance numbers, which is where this production shines. Some other aspects of the production can be a bit uneven, but as long as the eight-man (plus one anatomically correct female) troupe of chorus "girls," called Les Cagelles, are onstage, the show is great fizzy fun.

On the French Riviera sits the famed nightclub, La Cage aux Folles. It's owner/proprietor and emcee is Georges (dapper Curt Denham, who has a great singing voice and an easy, affable onstage presence), whose longtime companion is the club's star attraction, Albin, performing under the stage name, Zaza (Tony Panighetti, in a game, heartfelt performance). Suave Georges and the more flamboyant Albin have been together for 20-plus years, and are well known and loved in their community.

The plot involves the impending marriage of Georges' 24-year-old son (by a youthful, one-night indiscretion) who desperately wants the couple who raised him to act "normal" for one day to meet his fiancee's right-wing, bigoted parents. Fortunately. this plot doesn't interfere much with the entertaining production numbers onstage at the club, especially in the show's more dynamic first half.

Sammy Lopez makes a fun, campy feast out of the role of houseboy and wannabe showgirl Jacob. But the play's trump card is its portrait of tender affection between an aging couple who have been together for a long time. The touching relationship between Georges and Albin is the foundation from which this lively production takes flight. (Read more)

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