Wimbledon Theatre, London – until 18 March 2017
“It’s rather gaudy but it’s also rather grand.”
It doesn’t feel like that long since La Cage aux Folles was strutting its stuff in London as I made several visits to the Playhouse as it rotated its main cast on a regular basis (Douglas Hodge and Denis Lawson, Philip Quast and Roger Allam, John Barrowman and Simon Burke) but it has a good few years. So the time is clearly ripe for a revival and Kenwright and co clearly agree as they’ve mounted the show’s first ever UK tour.
And with John Partridge and Adrian Zmed at the helm, it remains as gloriously entertaining and heart-warmingly lovable as ever. A story about love and acceptance always has things to teach us, gay or straight, now more than ever and the story of St Tropez nightclub owners Georges and Albin is a touching one as through dealing with Georges’ son’s fiancée’s parents’ homophobia, they learn more about themselves and their own identities.
One of the most pleasing aspects of Martin Connor’s production is how good it looks. The economics of a touring show are sometimes too evident on the stage but here, Gary McCann’s set and particularly costume design explode with feathered and sequinned delight, the money has been spent well. And MD Mark Crossland marshals his six-strong band with full-bodied thrill to accompany Bill Deamer’s striking choreography – creatively, this is a show firing on all cylinders.
Pleasingly, it has performances to match. Partridge and Zmed pair up movingly and from ‘I Am What I Am’ to ‘Look Over There’ respectively, pay loving tribute to Jerry Herman’s evergreen score. And Harvey Fierstein’s script is particularly well-served by Samson Ajewole’s outrageous housemaid Jacob and Marti Webb’s Jacqueline (though it would have been nice to give her a bit more of an opportunity to sing).
I couldn’t finish without mentioned Les Cagelles – Jordan Livesey, Liam Paul Jennings, Louie-George Daniels, Matthew Ives, Micah Holmes and Richard Leavey – who serve up some Mama Ru realness and look divine whilst doing it. Definitely one to check out if it comes near you soon.