The lights of Phoenix Theatre dimmed and the audience hushed, and out walked our brilliant hostess, a woman (or man dressed in drag). His name was Chanté. And he (or is it she?) was quite the character. In less than five minutes, Chanté compared herself to the late Liz Taylor, yelled at the stragglers getting to their seats late, and told us the meaning behind the show we were about to view.
“Sparkle, glitter, feathers, sequins, love and family,” Chante said. “So open your eyes, open your hearts, and welcome to La Cage Aux Folles.”
La Cage Aux Folles is quite the popular show. It’s the winner of more than one Tony award, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score and Best Revival. La Cage is the story of Georges, the owner of a extravagant, slightly unusual nightclub in Saint-Tropez, France, and his partner, Albin, who is also a renowned performer at the club and is known as Zaza on stage.
But there can’t be a good show without a good plot twist, and when Georges’ son tells him that he’s bringing his fiancé and her ultra-conservative parents home to meet the family, the audience gets just that. And then the glitzy and glamorous show turns into a drama about love, acceptance, emotional struggle and what the word “family” truly means, all while keeping the musical comedy feel.
With this musical, you get the full package: Singing, dancing, and skilled acting with an extremely talented cast that take you on an emotional rollercoaster throughout the show. Georges, portrayed by Rusty Ferracane, has one of the most wonderful singing voices I’ve ever heard live. And he and Robert Kolby Harper, who portrays Albin, made a beautiful and heartwarming couple. Jacob, played by Eddie Maldonado, is also a very memorable character and adds constant comic relief to the show as the maid and aspiring Cagelle.
My favorite songs of the night were “Look Over There,” an emotional ballad by Ferracane and “Song on the Sand,” a duet between Ferracane and Harper. “Masculinity,” a song which included the townspeople of the show, was also a very fun and exciting number.
The whole cast was stunning, and the dance ability, gymnastics and flexibility of the men who portrayed the Cagelles at the club were simply astounding. But it was Ferracane and Harper who made the show as wonderful as it is, and showing that love is love, and it doesn’t matter if that love is between a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a man and another man who identifies as a woman.
This show isn’t for the faint of heart or the intolerant, but for those who are accepting and ready to see one of the best and most exciting shows Phoenix Theatre has ever staged, come see La Cage Aux Folles. It will be performed through April 7. Tickets start at $25.