La Cage aux Folles: Longacre Theatre, 6/17/10

1 07 2010

Before college, I only remember going to the theater twice: my family splurged on the national tour of West Side Story when I was in middle school, and my high school took a field trip to an NC Shakespeare Festival production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Both times, I was enthralled – but my access to theater was limited in Albemarle, NC. When I moved away to college, I took advantage of every opportunity to see and study theater, and I started to develop this valuable but sometimes pesky little thing called a critical lens. Hundreds of shows later, I’m still developing that critical lens and I enjoy putting it into practice here on my blog – but I sometimes get nostalgic for those days when I could turn the critical lens off and simply be enthralled by a good production.

Enter La Cage aux Folles, 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival. Maybe my critical lens was just tired; after all, I was getting over a terrible cold and had been pushing myself to the max with the West Village Musical Theatre Festival, countless Broadway shows, and long catch-up chats with my NYC-based friends. But after seeing La Cage, I was simply left with the warm afterglow of a classic musical comedy. I wanted to preserve that exuberance without dissecting the show into its parts. This production of Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman’s 1983 musical left me with a feeling, rather than words.

Still, I felt the imperative to write something, to perhaps capture a bit of the glow. Here are the sketchy notes that I forced out of my pen – rather incoherent and almost all raves:

  • possibly the best show of the trip!
  • classic musical comedy construction, hilarious
  • STAR performances, esp. Douglas Hodge, Kelsey Grammer, Robin de Jesus
  • choreography is stunning, loved the audience interaction
  • set design very simple and classic, lighting unobstrusive, lots of spotlighting!
  • genuinely appreciative and engaged audience
  • the cast has so much fun!
  • loved the musicians in boxes to the sides of stage, more interactive
  • not the greatest voices per se (esp. Grammer), but SUCH life and enthusiasm!

In the guise of a simple musical comedy, La Cage aux Folles grapples with complex issues of gender and sexuality.  Based on Jean Poiret’s 1973 play, the densely-layered musical probes alternative constructs of family, a subject of continuing relevance in the current fight for gay marriage.  Chaos ensues when Jean-Michel brings his fiancee’s conservative parents home to meet his family: Georges (Kelsey Grammer), a nightclub manager, and Albin (Douglas Hodge), the club’s star drag queen. Someday when I return to La Cage – either to this production or another – I know there will be endless complexities to dissect and probe. I can’t wait.

But for now, let me bask in a less-critical enthusiasm for a memorable night of entertainment. Such experiences are few and far between.

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2 responses

4 07 2010
Jen Fingal

Glad to hear that about La Cage — especially because Isherwood hated it so much (I think brantley did the review though and he like the production, and not the show). I’ve totally had similar experiences — I usually have critical lense on at all times (just can’t help it) but with Story of My Life, and I recently saw DCLO’s Carousel. . . my critical lens switched off and all that was left was emotion. ❤

16 12 2010
A Year in Theater: 2010 « Sarah Taylor Ellis

[…] Cage aux Folles (Longacre Theatre) – Review Classic musical comedy: more fun than I have had in the theater in a long time. Sometimes I love […]

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