Sunday, March 17, 2013

La Cage Aux Folles Comes to Phoenix: God Save the Queens!

by Pa Rock
Theatre Aficionado

La Cage Aux Folles, the campy musical on which the film, The Birdcage, was based, is currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre.

It's a simple story:  two middle-aged gay men own a club on the French Riviera that specializes in risqué acts featuring men in drag.  One of the men, Georges, serves as the emcee of the show, and his partner, Albin, is the lead drag star who performs under the name Zaza.  Georges has a biological son, Jean Michel, whom he and Albin have raised together as their own.

The conflict begins when Jean Michel returns home from a holiday with his girlfriend and announces that they are to be married.  She is the daughter of a conservative French politician who has a political goal of closing down the drag clubs along the Riviera.    Jean Michel does not want the politician to know that his parents are gay, and he initiates a plan to ease Albin out of the house during the visit of his fiancé and her parents.    The plan, not surprisingly, collapses into hilarity.

La Cage is a great musical, and the Phoenix Theatre performed the material with skill and daring.  The Cagelle Chorus was a fun ensemble of men in drag, some of whom bordered on being delicate and pretty while others could have been sun-dried Arizona politicians.  But they were all physical and loud - and had lots of fun with their musical numbers.

The other standout stars were Georges (Rusty Ferracane), Albin (Robert Kolby Harper), and Jean Michel (Colin Ross).  Mr. Ross had the most lyrical voice of anyone on the stage.  Eddie Maldonado who played Jacob, the maid, was also a standout.    Maldonado, who was recently seen on the Phoenix Theatre stage in the role of Prince Herbert in Spamalot, is highly physical and comedic - and steals scenes with ease.

The Saturday night performance of La Cage Aux Folles received a well deserved standing ovation.  That's high praise for drag queens in Phoenix, Arizona!

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