Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
La Cage aux Folles
The Stage Door Theatre presents the sensational La Cage aux Folles with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and book by Harvey Fierstein. The musical is based on the 1973 French play La Cage aux Folles by Jean Poiret. A French-Italian film of the same name was made in 1978, with subsequent sequel films La Cage aux Folles II in 1980, and La Cage aux Folles 3 : 'Elles' se mariant in 1985. An American film adaptation of the play called The Birdcage was made in 1996 starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.
The musical focuses on a gay couple living in Saint Tropez. Georges is the manager of a nightclub featuring drag entertainment. His star attraction is Zaza, who is his long time love, Albin. Their lives are filled with the busy club and its customers and employeesespecially "Les Cagelles.". Conflict begins in their personal lives when Georges' son, Jean-Michel, brings home his fiancee's ultra-conservative parents. Her father is a politician running for office using a moral platform solidly against the way of life shared by Georges and Albin and all around them.
La Cage aux Folles opened on Broadway on August 21, 1983, at the Palace Theatre where it ran for 1,761 performances. The production, starring Gene Barry and George Hearn, won six Tony Awards. It was an old-fashioned production in the best sense with elaborate costumes, exquisite sets, glamorous chorus members, crowd-pleasing choreography and a lush score. It rightfully remains a great American Broadway classic adored by audiences everywhere, and the Stage Door Theatre is both wise and lucky in choosing the right show at the right time for a grateful Florida audience.
The scenic design is solid, though not lush, but the costumes are everything they should be. Only a larger stage would allow for bigger, more elaborate costumes on Les Cagelles. The choreography by Chrissi Ardito is right on the money, and is well danced by the ensemble.
Matthew William Chizever has a warmth and maturity as Georges that belies his youth. He is very comfortable playing a character several years his senior. Timothy J. Conway as Albin/Zaza does a fine job with the role. It is a fine line trying to build a larger than life side to Zaza while maintaining Albin's sense of humanity. Marcus Davis does quite a bit of humorous scene stealing as their maid Jacob. Dean Maroulakos and a lovely Elizabeth Flanagan are sweet as Jean-Michel and Anne. Bob Levitt and Tina Lilly are well matched as Edouard and Mme. Dindon. And, surely, Bob Levitt in the closing number is a walking sight gag. The only glitch in the show is Brittney Griffin as Jacqueline, who is clearly not a singer in a singing role.
The stars of the show are really Les Cagelles. The audience can't help but be fascinated at their costume and gender changes, mixed with the fun and drama of each scene. Admittedly, you will probably be able to sort out the real women from the men rather quickly, but that doesn't diminish the fun and charm of this endearing production. With singable songs, lots of humor and wonderful costumes, what better way to welcome in the new year than by joining the cast in a chorus of "The Best Of Times" at the end of the show?
La Cage aux Folles will appear at the Stage Door Theatre through January 25, 2009. The theater is located at 8036 W. Sample Rd in Coral Springs, Florida. The Stage Door Theatre is a not-for-profit professional theatre company hiring local and non-local nonunion actors and actresses. Their two stages in Coral Springs are open year round. For tickets and information on their season, you may contact them by phone at 954-344-7765 or online at www.stagedoortheatre.com.