Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Broadway Theater Review: La Cage Aux Folles


A Nicely Staged, if Not Sensational Revival
By Lauren Yarger
Kelsey Grammer (TV’s Frasier) lends charm, if not a strong singing voice, to Director Terry Johnson’s beautifully staged revival of La Cage Aux Folles where designer Tim Shortall literally sets the stage.

Shortall creatively incorporates the motifs from the beautiful Longacre Theater onto the stage to create La Cage aux Folles, (translated it sort of means Cage of Madwomen) the nightclub owned by Georges (Grammer). Entertainment is provided by the Cagelles (Nick Adams, Logan Keslar, Sean Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Cunningham, Terry Lavell and Sean A Carmon), men dressed in sequined drag by costume designer Matthew Wright.

The Cagelles interact with audience members prior to and during the show and Shortall’s inclusion of cabaret tables for a row of audience in front of the stage completes the ambience.

Starring at the night club is ZaZa, a.k.a. Albin (Douglas Hodge), who is Georges’ long-time partner. Together they have raised Georges’ son, Jean-Michel (a rather stiff A.J. Shively), the product of a one-night stand. When Jean-Michel wants to marry Anne (Elena Shaddow), there’s a slight problem (besides Albin’s initial shock that he would want to marry a woman). It seems Anne’s father, Monsieur Dindon (Fred Applegate) just happens to be leader of the Tradition, Family and Morality Party and has pledged to shut down all of the immoral clubs on the Riviera featuring transvestites (and yes, we’re smart enough to know that dindon means “turkey” in French.)

Jean-Michel begs his father to rid his home of all the trappings of his lifestyle, including Albin, when the wealthy and righteous Dindon and his wife (Veanne Cox) come to inspect their daughter’s prospective in-laws. Helping with the ruse (the book is by Harvey Fierstein) is Georges and Albin’s maid/butler, Jacob (Robin DeJesus) who wants a chance to perform in drag at the club too, and restaurant owner, Jacqueline (Christine Andreas who provides the best singing voice in the cast).

There are awkward moments, dancing (Lynne Page choreographs), tunes (Jerry Herman wrote the music and lyrics) and finally, there is an unmasking of the elaborate charade where everyone decides “I Am Who I Am” and that “The Best of Times” is now (these are two of the show’s signature songs).

None of the performances really stands out. Grammer brings a sweet charm to the man torn between love for his son and love for the love of his life and there are only a few moment when you think Frasier is on stage. (Rumor has it that Grammer may switch and play Albin once Hodge, performing the role that won him an Olivier Award for the production in London before the show transferred here, leaves. Albin’s songs may prove an even greater challenge for Grammer, however.)

Johnson makes nice use of Applegate and Cox in dual roles. La Cage plays at the Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th St. Discounted tickets for friends of Masterwork Productions are available here.

Christians might also like to know:
• Cross dressing
• Language
• Scantily clad actors
• Sado masochism
• Sexual dialogue
• The two men kiss at the end of the show

1 comment:

Janine said...

I find your blog to be very infomative. I am trying to decide what show I want to see when I go to the city in August and La Cage is currently on my list. This review was very helpful in helping making my choice a bit easier. It sounds like something I want to see. :)

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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