La Cage aux Folles is the story of Georges and Albin and the titular nightclub in which they work. With a book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman, the show was first performed in 1983, based on the 1973 play of the same name by Jean Poiret. Amidst the glitz and glamour of St Tropez, Albin entertain the crowds by night as his alter-ego, Zsa Zsa. The pair have been together for years, and have even raised a son, Jean-Michel, conceived by Georges during a misguided youthful fling.
Now Jean-Michel wants to get married, but his fiancée Anne’s parents are ultra-conservative. Georges is faced with the realisation that winning their approval and making his son happy means denying the love of his life.
The show is often dramatic and flamboyant, with incredible choreography and star turns from the club’s ‘Cagelles’. It is also very funny, particularly in the character of the ‘maid’ Jacob and the scene in which Albin tries to impersonate Jean-Michel’s mother. However, the underlying tone is serious and heartfelt, with a message of accepting who you are – as sung by Albin in ‘I Am What I Am’, powerfully, towards the close of the first act.
Adrian Zmed is very strong as Georges, while John Partridge has just the right amount of sass and vulnerability as Albin. Samson Ajewole is a highlight as Jacob, while long-time musical performer Marti Webb is memorable as Georges and Albin’s friend Jacqueline.
I didn’t really know anything about this show before I went to see it, but I ended up really enjoying myself. La Cage aux Folles is glitzy and fun, but it also has a powerful message, and it’s well worth seeing.