Breast in the WestWith everything from whips cracking to hips popping, the circus has come to town and has jammed itself into the cozy confines of the CTC in the form of a striking production of La Cage Aux Folles.
As I watched the play, the laughter ringing in my ears behind me was the real show; the La Cage Aux Folles isn't shy on the audience participation. We threw our heads back, clapping and shaking with the music, extreme fun and flamboyance unfolding on the stage.
Georges (Ed Mierjeski) is the owner of a popular nightclub and the 20-year lover of Albin (Don Delach) who plays Zaza - the nightclub's main attraction. Delach's performance brings such exuberance to the stage that one can't help but click his (or her) heels with sheer delight at the fantastic level of expression he brings to the romping, cross-dressing production.
Aside from the little pinch of melodrama that Albin adds into daily life, the couple's world is pretty simple, and pretty good...until of course, their son, Jean-Michel (Bailey Lindenmaier) wants to marry a female. Anne (Paige Bevando), who's father Dindon (Stan Roach) just so happens to be the Deputy General of the Tradition, Family and Morality Party, has stolen the heart of their beloved son. This, of course, traumatizes Albin, who replies "snakes live a male and a female together! Cats live a male and a female together! We are human beings-we know better... our little baby is getting married-where did we go wrong?"
With marriage comes meeting the in-laws, but the only problem is, it's not the typical Ozzie and Harriet American home, and there is just a little bit too much flame dripping from Albin not to burn Dindon's moral sensibilities. The rest of the play, directed by Sandy Silver, is a farcical comedy filled from stern to bow with laughter as the audience watches this campy alternative family fumble through their dilemma.
It's comic relief dressed in a flamboyant array of chorus dancers and charming lovable characters - many of whom are men dressed as women, no doubt providing a challenge to the mostly male cast. Even the set design is a bit of a circus. Lights decorate the stairs on the stage, producing a distinctive Parisian nightclub ambiance that created a perfect backdrop for the males dressed in drag parading across the stage.
Yet underneath all of the glitter and rouge, La Cage Aux Folles embarks on a deep journey that contemplates the true nature of family and self acceptance. When the musical first debuted in 1983 on Broadway, it trumped much of the powerful competition, winning six Tony Awards out of nine nominations, including the top honors for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. It was one of the first commercially successful and critically acclaimed portrayals of the GLBT world. And while a comedy at heart, it's filled with love, depth and sincerity. The authenticity radiates in the CTC production.
On the local stage Ed Mierjeski, who plays George, the seemingly modest and quiet nightclub owner, has a presence that draws audience members into the story. Other notable performances included Paige Bevando as Anne for her authentic heart-felt acting, Jacqueline (Vicki Pennock) for her exuberance, Francis (Marc Mason) for his perfect comic timing, Hanna and Jacob for their hilarity, and a host of other comic geniuses decorating the stage adding perfect timing everywhere and taking the audience on a delightful ride.
Before the show started, Silver gave us an introduction which she concluded by saying "I want you all to have the time of your life!" And I think some of us nearly did.
La Cage Aux Folles
Plays through June 28. 7:30pm, Thursdays-Saturdays; 2pm Sunday and Saturday, June 13.