Making its original splash on Broadway in 1983, La Cage Aux Folles has certainly stood the test of time, having been successfully staged all over the world while continuing to garner more awards and accolades. Based on the surprise art house hit film from 1978, it’s the story of Georges and Albin, partners (in business and life) who run a Saint-Tropez drag club where Albin — as Zaza — is the star attraction.
Georges’ son, Jean-Michel (the product of a one-night stand with a chorus girl) arrives with the news that he’s met and fallen in love with a young woman named Anne, whom he intends to marry. Anne’s parents want to meet their daughter’s future in-laws, but her father is an ultra-conservative politician, and Jean-Michel begs Georges to tone down his flamboyant lifestyle and keep Albin out of sight during their visit. As a matter of fact, he’s even invited his own mother to join them, even though he hasn’t seen her in ages.
When Mom sends a telegram offering her apologies, Albin steps in to fill her heels at the last minute, and the comedy of gender, class, and mistaken identity ensues. Taken in this bare-bones synopsis, it sounds like a running-in-and-out-of-doors farce, and there are certainly some elements of that. But it’s Herman’s musical numbers that flesh out the characters and make La Cage something deeper and more memorable.
DuWayne Greene gives Georges the demeanor of an old-school impresario, which is appropriate. His singing voice is rich, providing poignance to such numbers as “Look Over There” and “Song on the Sand.” Greg Hinojosa’s Albin is a unique creature, living in a netherworld between genders but always secure in how he sees himself and his place in life. Albin, of course, gets to perform the anthemic “I Am What I Am,” and Hinojosa runs with it, adding a snarling defiance to the lyrics. Together, Greene and Hinojosa bring a lovely authenticity to a romance that has endured through the years.
Brian Hodges and Lauren Silva are fine as the young lovers, and Bob Galindo and Rebecca Trinidad are appropriately snooty as the ultra-conservative parents, whom you just can’t wait to see be taken down a peg. Rick Sanchez steals the spotlight as Jacob, Alvin’s heavily-accented butler (who prefers to be called a maid), showing up in a variety of hilarious outfits and hamming it up without wearing out his welcome. And, of course, Les Cagelles are there to provide the flash and glamour, abetted considerably by Rose Kennedy and Laura Briseno’s amusing costumes, Daniel Acosta’s makeup, and Ron Hammett’s wigs.
The Woodlawn production is skilfully directed by Tim Hedgepeth, with fine choreography by Christopher Rodriguez. The eight-piece band, under the direction of Andrew Hendley, aurally transports the audience to a sidewalk cafe, and Benjamin Grabill’s set design brings the show’s various locales effectively to life. Scenic artist Chris Rutz, lighting designer Chris Muenchow and sound designer Benjamin Farrar also contribute to the overall atmosphere. I know I’ve said it before, but the things this theater accomplishes with its resources, both onstage and behind the scenes, are truly something to be admired.
La Cage Aux Folles plays Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. (except April 12th at 7:30 p.m.) through May 3rd at the Woodlawn Theatre, 1920 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio. Tickets can be obtained online or by calling (210) 267-8388.
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