May 7, 2018
by Alexa Chipman
Families can be embarrassing and eccentric to young people eager for acceptance by those they esteem. For Jean-Michel, introducing his prima donna trans mother to his fiancé’s prudish, traditional parents is a nervous ordeal. Rather than being proud of the attentive mother he has, Jean-Michel tries to cover up the reality of his upbringing by hiding his dazzling, unconventional relatives, redecorating their home with drab furnishings, and causing an unintentional rift with his actual family in a mad scramble to impress strangers.
‘La Cage aux Folles’ is a mix of nightclub performances, comedic squabbling, and romantic ballads in the moonlight. Its relaxing atmosphere and endless parade of shimmering, festooned costumes, designed by Marcy Frank, is a pleasant divertissement. Director Russell Kaltschmidt emphasizes its central theme of love, from tentative and freshly discovered to a well-aged relationship, like a rich cellared wine. Harvey Fierstein’s high-spirited book andJerry Herman’s playful songs embellish the rather frivolous, yet enjoyable story.
Due to unexpected circumstances, there were substitutions in the cast, such as Albert McLeod singing forAnthony Martinez, which did not detract from the overall impression; the maturity and gentle understanding of Georges’ character is still present in Martinez’s performance. Whether an elegant toss of the head, woeful attempt at imitating the average “Uncle Al” or flirtatious observation to an audience member, Michael Conte’s Albin/Zaza is dynamic with the help ofRoxie Johnson’s dedication to the wide array of wigs Zaza dons between scenes.
Harassed Jean-Michel’s restless energy is captured by Lorenzo Alviso, who calms in the presence of his independently-minded fiancé, Anne (Hillary St. John). They are supported by a cast of flamboyant dancers and Joseph Favalora’s giddy trans maid, who is a delightful comic.
Sam Transleau’s set design of gilded picture frames, starry heavens and an ostentatious dressing room fades into the background, shifting with Vincent Mothersbaugh’slighting that takes center stage in swirling spotlights for sensual, cheeky nightclub choreography by Joseph Favalora.
‘La Cage aux Folles’ is a spunky romantic comedy that is impeccably well-dressed for the occasion. Pull back the velvet curtain and welcome an evening of frolicking pandemonium.
Presented by 6th Street Playhouse through May 27, 2018
Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
G.K. Hardt Theatre at 6th Street Playhouse
52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Photos by Eric Chazankin
Author Website - http://imaginationlane.net
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