La Cage Aux Folles

La Cage Aux Folles

La Cage Aux Folles
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Directed and choreographed by Rob Winn Anderson
Starring Brian Minyard, Matthew Arter and Joshua Kolb
Garden Theatre, Winter Garden, FL

One drag queen in a show is a handful; six must be a truckload. This story started life as a 1973 French stage play, then became a 1978 French film, and ultimately morphed back to the musical stage in 1983. While the theme of “gay domestic” lacks the original wallop, this musical is a great palette to do everything splashy a stage can hold. It even opens with a fabulous and spirited kick line; I’ve seen shows end on less. The plot is a classic comedy of errors and mistaken cues and glitter: Georges (Minyard) and Albin “Stage named: Zsa Zsa” (Arter) run a night club with a drag revue. They’ve been at it for years but a new wave of conservatism in politics threatens to shut it down. Locally, Georges’ son Jean-Michel (Kolb) announces his imminent wedding to Anne (Laura Miller). What’s the problem? Her daddy is spear heading the anti-TV drive and she needs his approval to wed. Hilarity ensues as Georges and Albin negotiate a truce: Georges wants to hide Albin and Albin is offended; he feels his years of mothering are been ignored for the sake of political expediency. They are, and that makes for a surprisingly engaging story.

“La Cage” passed my Great Musical test; I hummed “The Best of Time” all the way home. Other toe tappers include “A Little More Mascara” and of course the anthem, “I Am What I Am.” Mr. Minyard was very elegant in his purple crushed velvet dinner jacket and Mr. Arter is at ease on stage and able to belt even without a microphone. The outfits all sparkled; you might want to bring some clip-on shades if you have a seat close to the stage. Mr. Kolb was pleasant but his role was more plot than flash; it was Rob Ward as the snarky Jacob who stole scenes and did his entire Pepe act just without the orange mohawk. Other excellent support came from Janine Papin and Keith Smith; they shines as the conservative Dindon couple. The choreography was snappy and in sync, and even without a plot this would be an excellent show. If you get the chance, look up at the nude carved angels hovering over the proscenium. Set designer Tommy Mangieri put them there.

The house was full on the Saturday night I attended, and there was something pretty amazing at intermission: the men’s room line stretched to the stairs and there was no line for the ladies room. Even at a football game there’s a ladies room line, but not here. Winter Garden can be a bit conservative and this show in the space was a risk; but a risk that pays off. Glamour, glitz, great singing, and even a great plot: this a top notch experience. Get out to see it, but guys – use the facilities early.

For more information on The Garden Theatre, please visit www.gardentheatre.org

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