Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton – until 1 July 2017
The best of times is now, a more fitting musical number there never was – indeed La Cage Aux Folles is an uplifting, life affirming joy of a show. Although tinged with moments of heartbreak, the recovery process is so beautifully told that the overall feeling is one of sheer delight. Bill Deamer’s slick, detailed and deliciously naughty choreography combined with Jerry Herman’s spectacular score made for a marvellous evening at the theatre.
La Cage Aux Folles tells the story of couple, Georges (Adrian Zmed) and Albin (John Partridge), Georges runs La Cage Aux Folles, where drag acts are the specialty of the day and Albin (aka Zsa Zsa) is the star turn. When their son, Jean-Michele (Dougie Carter) announces that he’s getting married… to a woman(!) there’s an elaborate plan hatched to prevent his intended’s parents (Paul F Monaghan and Su Douglas) from discovering the truth about the family set up. Anne (Alexandra Robinson) the bride to be, is the daughter of parents who are so conservative to the extreme that Jean-Michele fears he will not be permitted to marry their daughter if they discover the truth. With a little help from Jacqueline (Marti Webb) events take an interesting turn.
The tale is peppered with song upon song, including popular numbers such as We Are What We Are, I Am What I Am and of course, The Best Of Times. The costumes themselves are quite something and the decadent set framed the action perfectly too. Comedy is the over-riding theme, however it is a very current piece despite its age and the underlying undertones are quite touching.
Adrian Zmed gave a superb performance as Georges, the glue holding the situation together and he had palpable chemistry with John Partridge who shone as Albin. This part was made for Partridge, without a doubt and he performed it as though it was his first ever time in the heels, the joy emulating from him was infectious and his audience interaction was hilarious. Samson Ajewole appeared to be in his element as Jacob the ‘maid’, mincing and swaggering with attitude. There were also notably excellent performances from Dougie Carter as Jean-Michele and Paul F Monaghan as Dindon, the conservative father-in-law-to-be. However, the unexpected show stealer was Su Douglas who played the mother-in-law-to-be, Marie – comic timing, a sensational singing voice and stage presence in abundance, I’ll be watching out for her again in the future. A mention must also go to the boys in the ensemble who made the most incredible divas.
As an overall musical, it may not be the most popular or indeed everybody’s cup of tea. However, it packs a punch, offers all-round entertainment and I recommend it for Partridge’s performance alone.