La Cage aux Folles, a “show about a show”, is based on both a book by Harvey Fierstein and a 1973 play by Jean-Poiret. You may be more familiar with film sequels from either 1980 or 1985, or 1996′s The Birdcage starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
Either way, this multiple Tony-award winning musical is here for nearly four weeks at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, as part of its Mainstage Season. I attended the opening on Thursday evening, amid a splash of brightly coloured feathered boas, the perfect accessory for this hilarious romp that revolves around a glitzy Saint-Tropez gay nightclub.
Georges owns La Cage aux Folles. His partner Albin performs there as the glamorous singer Zaza. Georges’ son, Jean-Michel, is in love and ready to marry his fiancée Anne, but her parents are highly conservative, anti-gay, and more to the point, on their way to meet his parents. Hilarity ensues, and the build-up is engaging, meshed with dance numbers and reflected moments of George and Albin’s life together with Jean-Michel. When Jean-Michel’s birth mother fails to show up for the family meeting, there’s even more craziness continuing right up to the play’s finale.
If you’re a fan of outrageous costumes, high camp, great dance numbers and real life drag queen performers, you’ll want to book a ticket to this production. The stage revolves to reveal several sets. The lighting, costumes, and scenery are all marvelous to watch, right through to the end of the finale, where the cast appears frozen around the perimeter of the rotating stage, each one ready to come to life for a well deserved round of applause.
The talented cast includes standout roles by Greg Armstrong-Morris as Albin, Vincent Tong as Jacob the butler (“maid!”), and Andrew Wheeler as Edouard Dindon, the conservative father that the entire group aims to please in the second half. You’ll die laughing over the zany Jacob, who’s ready for his big break in the Cagelles.
I was happy to see Andrew Wheeler in the La Cage cast, having enjoyed his recent performances in both August: Osage County and Re:Union. Wheeler adds the perfect counterbalance to the rest of the flamboyant bunch.
The only weak role that I found was Scott Perrie in Jean-Michel’s role. Perhaps his voice wasn’t strong enough, however outside of this, the entire cast, including a six piece band, is top notch.
La Cage aux Folles is on now through December 24 at the Vancouver Playhouse (corner of Hamilton and Dunsmuir). Running time is 2 hours 20 minutes, including an intermission. Visit the website for ticket information and showtimes.
NOTE: On Tuesday, December 20, a fundraising performance of La Cage will benefit both Qmunity and the Playhouse. There will be a pre show reception and silent auction starting at 7 pm, with the performance beginning at 8 pm. Ticket price includes admission to the after party with “Les Cagelles“. Visit the QMunity website for details.