Review by Jody Hooker
Winner of 11 Broadway Tony Awards, the rollicking romping fun hit musical LA CAGE AUX FOLLES is back in Sydney for a special encore season at the State Theatre for one week only. A timeless and enduring story of love, commitment, family, and acceptance; that the Hollywood movie ‘THE BIRDCAGE’ was based on.
An all-new Australian production starring five-time Helpmann Award winner PAUL CAPSIS (Cabaret The Musical, Head-On) in the role of Albin and MICHAEL CORMICK (The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast) as Georges his partner with an all-star cast including ZOE VENTOURA (Packed To The Rafters, Home and Away), NOAH MULLINS (Jagged Little Pill, West Side Story), LUCIA MASTRANTONE (Looking For Alibrandi, The Harp in the South)
Written by HARVEY FIERSTEIN (Kinky Boots, Torch Song Trilogy) and JERRY HERMAN (Hello, Dolly!, Mame). The musical that gave us the hit song and anthem ‘I AM WHAT I AM’.
Get ready for an all singing, all dancing, all laughing journey to the night life of St Tropez in the south of France. ‘Open your eyes, you have arrived at LA CAGE AUX FOLLES’
La Cage Aux Folles is based on the 1973 French play, the show tells the story of a gay couple, Georges (Michael Cormick), the manager of a nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin (Paul Capsis). After twenty years of un-wedded bliss, Georges and his partner Albin face the hardest challenge of their relationship, yet: meeting their son, Jean-Michel’s (Noah Mullins) fiance’s parents, with the father being an anti-gay politician.
Opening on Broadway in 1983, La Cage broke barriers for gay representation by becoming the first hit Broadway musical centered on a homosexual relationship.
Directed by Sydney based director Riley Spadaro who leads an energetic cast of 17, La Cage Aux Folles takes the audience on a colorful journey in Sydney’s State Theatre.
The show begins with 7 phenomenal dancers on stage dressed in immaculate costumes, unfolding the story and setting the scene of drag entertainment. These dancers consisted of Matthew Jenson, Nick Jones, Nick Eynaud, Liam Peel, Ethan Ritchie, Trent Sinclair and Max Walburn the ‘Les Cagelles’ who were immaculately choreographed by Veronica Beattie George. This ensemble of performers were a true highlight in the show bringing color, life, energy and an immense amount of talent to the stage.
Musical Director Craig Renshaw leads a tight band of 9 who we were privileged to be able to watch, placed on a grandstand at the back of the stage for the majority of the performance becoming part of the set and an intrinsic part of the story.
The cast includes a beautifully diverse range of performers from across Australia, Including a stand out performance by Paul Capsis as Albin/Za Za. Capsis left nothing in the tank strutting around the stage in an array of costumes belting out ‘I am, what I am’ expressing Albin’s vulnerability leaving the audience with chills!
In contrast to Albin, Michael Cormick played a softer ‘Georges’ singing a majestic ‘Song On The Sand’. Jean-Michel is played by Sydney based performer Noah Mullins who sung a beautiful ‘With Anne On My Arm’ and displayed a strong performance with a few flickers of his phenomenal dance ability. Chloe Malek partnered with Noah Mullins playing a graceful Anne Dindon, a minor character who stunned with every stage entrance.
Alongside these performers were experienced thespians Anthony Brandon Wong as a hilarious Jacob, Peter Phelps as Edouard Dindon, Zoe Ventoura as Marie Dindon, Lucia Mastrantone as Jacqueline, Rachel Cole as Colette and James Lee as Tabarro.
All of these actors were strong presences in the production with distinctive versions of the characters, proving strength and certainty within the story.
A stand out performance comes from Lucia Mastrantone as an eccentric Francis, unfortunately this production lacked where many microphones were either not on or very low volume with many lines of this production being missed by the audience. Lucia took this in her stride projecting and bringing everything she had to what technical errors were occurring.
There was no shortage of glitz and glamor for this iconic queer production filled with fans, feathers, sequins and many glitzy curtains. La Cage Aux Folles is a production that celebrates love, acceptance, and the joy of being yourself.
La Cage aux Folles runs from April 19-23, 2023. Tickets start at $49.95 https://www.statetheatre.com.au/show-calendar/la-cage-aux-folles/