Monday, January 12, 2015

La Cage aux Folles at Wick Theatre


The Best of Times at Wick Theatre

By Skip Sheffield

The best of times is now.
That is the upbeat message of “La Cage aux Folles,” playing through Feb. 15 at the Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
“La Cage aux Folles” is a big, beautiful show. Director Norb Joeder and his cast and crew have done it right with two strong veteran Broadway leads, a young, talented supporting cast, a lively, larger band under the direction of pianist Michael Ursua (and the band is reveal onstage for the first time at The Wick), and of course gorgeous costumes, and this is nothing if not a costume show.
“La Cage” is based on a 1973 French stage play by the same name by Jean Poiret. It also was a French and an American motion picture.
The music and lyrics are by Jerry Herman and the book is by Harvey Fierstein, an ardent gay activist and most multi-talented theater writer-performer, with Best Actor Tony Awards for “Torch Song Trilogy,” which he wrote; another Best Actor for “Hairspray;” playwright of the hit show “Kinky Boots” and member of the Theater Hall of Fame in 2007.
I had the treat of seeing Fierstein perform when “Torch Song Trilogy,” played Miami Beach. Fierstein has a froggy, gravelly voice, and he is not what you could call svelte or delicate.
That is part of the joke of “Torch Song” and “Hairspray” which he both played in drag.
It is also part of the joke of “La Cage.” The dual role of Albin, a most swishy gay man and Zaza, the temperamental star of the St. Tropez nightclub “La Cage aux Folles,” is a middle-aged, not slim or delicate man. No amount of costume or makeup could make Zaza a Brigitte Bardot, and there lies the poignancy of the role.
Lee Roy Reams has played Albin/Zaza on Broadway, and the actor knows how to milk the role both for broad laughs and vulnerability.
Georges, owner and master of ceremonies of “La Cage,” is on the other hand a model of physical masculinity, yet the longtime lover of Albin/Zaza.
Walter Charles is a different kind of Georges. The 40-year theater veteran is bald and wears glasses and doesn’t pretend otherwise. What Charles has is a magnificent baritone voice that blends beautifully with Reams’ tenor. Moreover they are most believable as a caring, long-loving couple.
The “crisis” of the play, such as it is, is the fact Georges heterosexual 24-year-old son Jean-Michel (Aaron Young) has fallen in love, quelle horreur, with a lovely girl named Anne Dindon (Christina Laschuk, who is also dance captain). Worse, Anne is the daughter of the self-appointed moral crusader and head of the “Tradition, Family and Morality Party" (Troy J. Stanley). Worse still, Mr. Dindon and his flighty wife (Angie Radosh) are coming to dinner to meet the parents of Jean-Michel. What could go wrong? Plenty, starting with the flamboyant butler/maid Jacob (Phil Young), and climaxing with Albin trying to masquerade as Jean-Michel’s birth mother Sybil.
Then there are the Cagelles, the lovely, agile song and dance performers of La Cage, played by six young men in drag and two young women.
“We Are What We Are” is the proud anthem of “La Cage.” If you can dig that, you will love this show.
Tickets are $58 and $62. Call 561-995-2333.

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