|Paul Capsis as Albin as ZsaZsa in "La Cage aux Folles"
Lyrics by Jerry Herman – Book by Harvey Fierstein
Riley Spadaro – Musical Direction by Craig Renshaw
by Veronica Beattie George – Costume Design by James Browne
Set Design by Grace Deacon - Wigs and Makeup
designed by Drew-Elizabeth Johnstone
by Anthony Lorenz – Lighting Design by Phoebe Pilcher
Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. 1st
- 5th February 2023.
performance on 4th February reviewed by Bill Stephens
When it was
first seen on Broadway in 1983 La Cage aux
Folles broke barriers for gay representation by becoming the first hit
Broadway musical focussed around a homosexual relationship. Now, 40 years later, it’s no longer
provocative, but more a celebration of inclusiveness and family wrapped in one
of Jerry Herman’s most tuneful scores.
Fierstein’s wicked quips still delight, and his storyline remains surprisingly
touching and as presented in this
deliciously effervescent production, insures a delightful theatrical experience
for the whole family.
La Cage aux Folles tells the story of a gay couple,
Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub which presents drag entertainment;
and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction at the nightclub.
relationship hits a snag however when George’s son, Jean-Michel, the result of
a one-night stand some years before, announces
that he wants to bring his fiancé and her ultra-conservative parents’ home to
meet Georges and would prefer that the flamboyant Albin was not around. How
this situation is resolved provides the show with its hilarious finale.
1985 Australian production of La Cage
played for six months in Sydney before moving on to Melbourne. It famously
starred Keith Michell as Georges and Jon Ewing, unforgettable as Albin. Todd
McKenney was one of the Cagelles in that production.
later went on to play Albin opposite Simon Burke’s Georges in a Production
Company revival in 2014 which was only seen in Melbourne.
Remarkably, Sydney has had to wait 37 years for its opportunity to see this show again. But it’s been worth the wait, because, finally, after several Covid related postponements, David M. Hawkins with his Showtune Productions has finally got his production on stage, albeit for a pitifully short season, and in doing so, created a small sensation with his superbly cast and performed production.
card is the remarkable Paul Capsis as Albin. Capsis is one of the country’s
most unique and accomplished performers and this is a role he was born to play.
His Albin is bitchy, difficult, prone to hissy fits, hysterically funny, but
completely authentic and magnetic whenever on stage. It’s a performance to relish, although
perhaps still a work in progress given the short season.
perfectly matched by Michael Cormick who also offers a superb performance as
the suave, handsome, unflappable Georges, able to calm Albin’s ruffled feathers
with his honey-toned baritone with memorable renditions of “With You on My Arm”
and “Song of the Sand”.
with considerable flair by Riley Spadaro, most of the action for this
production takes place onstage and backstage at the nightclub. Designer, Grace
Deacon, incorporated handsome festoon curtaining into her otherwise simple
design to achieve a luxurious ambiance. Changes of locale were achieved simply
by having cast members whisk furniture and props into place as required.
|Les Cagelles - "La Cage Aux Folles"
rostrums upstage accommodated Craig Renshaw’s excellent onstage band, leaving plenty
of room for the many spectacular dance routines performed with commendable
panache and precision by up to nine gorgeously bespangled and bewigged Cagelles
which added much of the glitz and glamour.
captured exactly the right tone of youthful entitlement as well as revealing an
attractive singing voice, as Georges’ son, Jean-Michel, who’s hopelessly
besotted with his pretty, wide-eyed fiancée, Anne, charmingly portrayed by
|Noah Mullins (Jean-Michel) - Michael Cormick (Georges)
brought glamour and a well-tuned sense of humour to her performance as Marie
Dindon, the wife of Jane’s pompous father, Edouard Dindon, portrayed with
obvious enjoyment and appropriate pomposity by Lani Tupu.
Brandon Wong brought plenty of energy to his interpretation of the household’s
stage- struck manservant, Jacob, although the decision to costume him in
dresses occasionally caused confusion, particularly when he was onstage with
Albin also in a dress.
It was also
a miss-step to costume Albin in a dress and heels for “Masculinity” because
it’s impossible to “walk like a man” in high-heels. Therefore the song lost its
point and whatever comic possibilities were inherent in Albin attempting to do
as he’s asked. It also provided the one moment in the show where Paul Capsis
appeared to struggle to maintain character.
quibbles aside, such has been the interest in this production that there is talk
that it might tour. It should. Not only because of the performances of Capsis
and Cormick, but because there is so much to be enjoyed about this production
and the way it has captured the heart of what the show is really about, that it
should be seen by the widest possible audience. If it comes your way, don’t