Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jul 07th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Uncaged and Uninhibited

ae LaCage1Dance, diversity shine in Cabrillo's fizzy ‘La Cage Aux Folles'

In celebration of the end of DOMA, and the repeal of Proposition 8, Cabrillo Stage launches its 2013 summer musical season with a lavish, light-hearted production of “La Cage Aux Folles.” Based on the groundbreaking 1978 French film comedy, one of the earliest depictions in modern pop culture of a sympathetic gay couple in a long-term domestic relationship, the show was first produced in 1983 with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by the legendary Jerry Herman.

The Cabrillo production is directed and choreographed by CS veteran Janie Scott for maximum crowd-pleasing. The story is set in and around a popular drag nightclub in Saint-Tropez in the south of France, so there's plenty of opportunity for big, elaborate dance numbers, which is where this production shines. Some other aspects of the production can be a bit uneven, but as long as the eight-man (plus one anatomically correct female) troupe of chorus "girls," called Les Cagelles, are onstage, the show is great fizzy fun.

On the French Riviera sits the famed nightclub, La Cage Aux Folles. (Literal translation from the French is "cage of madwomen," and a large birdcage figures in one of the show's best numbers.) Its owner/proprietor and emcee is Georges (dapper Curt Denham, who has a great singing voice and an easy, affable onstage presence), whose longtime companion is the club's star attraction, Albin, performing under the stage name, Zaza (Tony Panighetti). Suave Georges and the more flamboyant Albin have been together for 20-plus years, and are well known and loved in their community.

Georges' 24-year-old son from a one-night indiscretion, Jean-Michel (the likable Curtis Reynolds), whom Georges and Albin have raised from infancy, comes home to announce to his parents that he's getting married. Once ae LaCage2Les Cagelles of “La Cage Aux Folles” roll with it on stage. they get over the shock that his intended is a woman, Georges and Albin are eager to welcome her into the family. The only problem is, her father is a right-wing bigot who runs an organization called TFM (Traditional Family and Morality). Afraid of losing the woman he loves, Jean-Michel begs his father to call his long-absent blood mother and pretend to be in a "normal" marriage with her just for one day, so the bride's parents can meet their future in-laws without incident—a ruse that will also exclude the easily hurt Albin.

This plot has its ups and downs, but it doesn't interfere much with the entertaining production numbers onstage at the club, especially in the show's more dynamic first half. The rousing opening, "We Are What We Are," introduces Les Cagelles to fine effect. Alex Alvarez as whip-cracking Hannah from Hamburg, Robert Coverdell's Chantal, and Danny Dwaine Wells II as Mercedes, were among my favorites, but they are all wonderful. (Special kudos are also due to CS stalwart Jarrod Washington in a funny bit as accident-prone stage manager Francis.)

Les Cagelles are also in fine form in their terrific black feathered Maria Crush costumes, prowling around their giant birdcage, then launching into an acrobatic cancan in the first act finale, "La Cage Aux Folles,” which leads into Albin's poignant power ballad, "I Am What I Am." But the energy flags in the second half, which is all about the doomed meet-the-parents plot. Danielle Williams as perky Anne, Jean-Michel's fiancée, Benjamin Holck as her dyspeptic dad and Mindy Pedlar as his oppressed wife all work hard, but their scenes hadn't quite gelled on opening night. (In particular, the multi-part ensemble number "Cocktail Counterpoint" needs a bit more polish.) But the nightclub finale, with Les Cagelles on roller skates, brings the audience to its feet.

ae LaCage3George (Curt Denham, left) and Albin (Tony Panighetti) rely on love to lead to the way.Skip Epperson's stylish sets and Kyle Grant's jazzy lighting are especially effective in the nightclub scenes. And Sammy Lopez makes a fun, campy feast out of the role of houseboy and wannabe showgirl Jacob. But the play's trump card is its portrait of tender affection between an aging couple who have been together for a long time, and this production does not disappoint on that score. Although Panighetti sang a little flat on opening night, he delivers a game and heartfelt performance as Albin, and he is partnered beautifully by the gallant Denham. Their touching relationship is the foundation from which this lively production takes flight. 


“La Cage Aux Folles” plays through Aug. 11 at Cabrillo College’s Crocker Theatre, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. For ticket information, call 479-6154 or visit cabrillostage.com.

Photos: Jana Marcus

Comments (1)Add Comment
so so
written by gregolio, July 20, 2013
The film is very story-driven compared to the musical stage version which seems far more dance and wig-driven - not surprising considering Harvey Fierstein wrote the adaptation.
For instance there is far less tension in the main character's relationship in part because they burst out in song together every 10 minutes. Thus the acting has to be tip top and it wasn't. Albin was amazing - his face registering every subtlety but Georges never lost his emcee voice from the first scene and every dialog felt like he was presenting the news.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food