Theatre review by Hannah Richardson
If you’re looking for an antidote to the dank August weather, La Cage Aux Folles is bringing a blast of colour and sparkle to Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday night.
Think showgirls, drag queens, sequins, feathers and glitz, add in catchy tunes, a touching love story and an absurd family farce and you’ve got a musical that brought the audience joyously to its feet at Tuesday’s press night.
The original production of La Cage aux Folles broke all box office records when it opened in Boston in 1983 and went on to win six Tony Awards on Broadway. The London Palladium production in 1986 co-starred Denis Quilley.
More than 30 years later, and in very different times, a brand new production of the show, produced by Bill Kenwright, is now on its first UK tour.
Written by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman, and based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret, La Cage Aux Folles follows the story of Georges, the manager of a Saint Tropez nightclub, and his partner, Albin, a drag artiste and the club’s star attraction.
Georges and Albin live happily together... until Georges’ son Jean-Michel announces his engagement to the daughter of a right-wing politician.
Farce ensues when Jean-Michel begs them to cover up their colourful lifestyle to win over the parents.
John Partridge, best known for playing Christian Clarke in EastEnders, won the audience’s heart with his portrayal of Albin.
Not only did he look and sound great as drag queen ZaZa, belting out the big numbers, but he also dealt well with the role’s considerable pathos, holding the audience completely spellbound in the quieter moments.
American film, TV and Broadway veteran Adrian Zmed co-stars as Georges, and the two characters are nicely balanced, although I would have liked to have felt a little more chemistry between them.
TV star and recording artist Marti Webb brings a surprising and delightful element to the show as restaurataur Jacqueline.
Samson Ajewole also gives a hugely enjoyable performance as the ‘maid’, Jacob.
The show is held together by a talented and energetic seven-strong male chorus line, who apparently effortlessly change from one spectacular set of costumes to another, looking so glamorous it’s sometimes hard to believe they’re actually boys – until they triumphantly doff their wigs at the end of a number, or wander across the set topless.
The story is nonsensical but funny, the acting is good, the costumes and the set are great, the tunes are catchy and the love story between Georges and Albin is truly heartwarming.
It certainly brightened up my week.
Box office: 0844 871 7652 or seewww.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes