Wild Rice’s extravagant La Cage Aux Folles is running from 20th July to 4th August 2012, at the Esplanade Theatre, and is probably going to be the most enjoyable and most fun musical you see in Singapore this year. La Cage is full of glitzy costumes, rip-roaring comedy, memorable songs, and great acting, all encased in campy fun.
The premise of La Cage is simple: George (Tony Eusoff) and Albin (Ivan Heng) are a gay couple, Albin a drag queen (“Zaza”) at night who performs at the club next to the house, both of which the couple owns. Things take a dramatic turn when George’s son Jonathan (Aaron Khaled), whom Albin has helped raise, comes home with news that he’s to marry Anne (Seong Hui Xuan), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.K. Tan (played by Darius Tan and Karen Tan respectively). Mr. Tan turns out to be from the Traditional Family Morality Party – a conservative party that’s on a mission to close down all establishments of vice, including drag clubs.
Hence, in order to get Mr. Tan to approve of his intention to marry Anne, Jonathan tells George he doesn’t want Albin around on the day Anne’s parents are to visit. Albin finds out, and is devastated. However, when Jonathan’s biological but perpetually drunk and missing mother once again bails out on meeting Anne and her parents, Albin comes up with a plan that puts a hilarious spin to the rest of the story.
Tony Eusoff and Ivan Heng make a loving, believable couple, and their sweet love comes across as palatable and real. Heng plays drag queen Zaza to perfection, whether he is (within the story) being Zaza on stage or off stage. In all her flashy jewelry and embellished gowns, complete with diamante hair accessories, Heng’s Zaza is a sight to behold and audiences will be convinced this is an aging entertainer whose star is perhaps starting to fade a little, but who as her ‘real’ self – the melodramatic Albin – still is someone who has a zest for life and love. Heng’s acting is right on the mark to capture the essence of both Zaza and Albin excellently.
However, where Heng falters is in his singing, as he doesn’t possess a voice meant for stage. Heng’s voice is often drowned out by the orchestra, especially his lower notes, and hence some of the lyrics he sings can’t be made out. Heng’s voice especially pales next to the full and rich baritone of Tony Eusoff, whose voice is in impeccable form, and Eusoff carries his songs with a lot of ease and emotion. Eusoff also is a very competent actor, bringing George’s frustrations to the forefront effectively, as he struggles to find a balance between the wants of his son and the needs of his lover.