Friday, March 16, 2012

La Cage Aux Folles (Review)

by Sarah Davis
Christopher Sieber and George Hamilton in La Cage Aux Folles
PITTSBURGH-La Cage Aux Folles is overly dramatic, has a cast of cross dressing men exposing their bare chests (so there is no chance you mistake them for women), and at times, tugs at your heart. The set is more feminine than the inside of a Victoria's Secret, nothing is held back, and at times, the cast throws giant beach balls into the crowd.  It's safe to say that no cast member was anything short of overly confident, displaying it through high kicks, flashing their booties, or belting it out Broadway-style about applying a few more coats of mascara when getting ready. Let me remind you, these are men we're talking about. 

Aside from the La Cage Aux Folles plot itself, which I think was appreciated more to older generations than me, a 26 year old raised in a fairly Christian home, the production itself was flawless.  Everything about the changing of the scenes happened flawlessly and everything was crafted beautifully. It was clearly something straight out New York City. A few nights prior to attending La Cage, I sat in the same auditorium (Pittsburgh's historical gem, the Benedum Center) watching a beautiful ballet with an audience that quietly admired the beauty of the show.  The energy of the cast members of La Cage was instantly set with a pre-show talk with one of the castmates, who fired off jokes at the audience with no shame while everyone located their seats.  At one point, even criticized a late guest. "Welcome, what does your ticket say? 7:30-ISH?!" The crowd found it to be the highlight of their night. The late guest, who actually sat in the row in front of me, didn't notice that everyone was staring at her, saving herself the awkwardness of the perhaps unwanted spotlight.  Pegged an interactive show, the audience was encouraged to participate, to bounce around the beach balls that were tossed out into the crowd (I don't know if I mentioned this, but there were a lot of older folks in attendance, mostly to see George Hamilton, I assume), and to even lean when Christopher Sieber's character, Zaza, told them to (not entirely sure why.)

In the story, however, the main characters are a gay couple with an eccentric life.  George Hamilton owns a cross-dressing nightclub, La Cage, and the other, is the cross-dressing, more-dramatic-than-a-dramatic-female-star-of-the-show, Albin (played by Christopher Sieber).  Georges' son has found the love of his life, but the girl happens to be the daughter of a right wing anti-gay politician.  The girl's family wants to meet her fiance's folks over dinner, so the son tries to persuade his father, Georges, to get rid of Albin, who has a stage name of Zaza,for the night, get rid of most of his belongings, and invite his biological mother to pretend like his parents are "normal." Albin is left hurt. I won't give away the rest of the story, as I'm sure most of you know it already, but in case you don't, you should go see La Cage at the Benedum Center over the weekend.

Even if you can't relate to being gay, you can surely relate to the human emotion of wanting to be accepted for just who you are.  "We are what we are," is one of the main songs of the show, and the lyrics are said more than once at key times during the development of the story at the nightclub, La Cage.  Even though they are pretending to perform at their nightclub, the song sets the tone of the entire Broadway production.  "We are what we are and what we are is an illusion." La Cage Aux Folles is playing all weekend, until March 18, so be sure to check out this Broadway musical if you're in Pittsburgh. I would recommend this show to anyone who is looking to relax and go to a show to have fun.  

Also, be sure to check out an interview we did prior to opening night with the stage manager of La Cage Aux Folles, Karyn Meek (article available here).

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