William Nickles, Susan McNeese Lynch, Jason Cooper, Rusty Henle, & Olivia Duff. Photo: Holly Stone
La Cage Aux Folles
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Michael Drury
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
I am what I am. I am my own special creation. This statement of identity and embracing yourself resonates in Jerry Herman’s buoyant musical comedy, La Cage Aux Folles. Pandora Productions has pieced together a nostalgic production that deconstructs both family traditions and what it means to accept yourself.
The lines between the stage at the La Cage nightclub and the backstage antics blur immediately. As an established night club owner prepares to meet his son’s fiancé, the sparks fly when it comes to light that the future in-laws lean toward the Right with conservative values. In the middle of all this drama, the owner’s partner and star of the nightclub fight to be accepted by their son. The script unravels with hilarity as identities are hidden and zany antics to pass for a heteronormative persuasion are ultimately doomed.
As Georges and Albin, Jason Cooper and Michael Drury make for an endearing and affable married couple. Neither assumes the “husband” or “wife” role; they are simply partners. The chemistry in Drury and Cooper’s performances is sweet and patient, most evident in “Look Over There” and “Song on the Sand.” Cooper highlights Georges comically struggles to pull off hijinks for his son’s pending nuptials. As Georges puts the partnership to the test, Cooper exhaustingly walks a tight rope to stay calm as his scheme inevitably falls apart in front of him. Drury, who also serves as the director for the production, delivers conviction and sincerity as Albin, and also crafts a vivacious cabaret persona, Zaza. Drury’s delivery of “I Am What I Am” reminds us all why it has become a stand out anthem for the struggle for equality and recognition in the LGBTQ+ community.
The ensemble handles the well-known score with ease. As the Les Cagelles, Michael Detmer, A.J. Hughes, Brad Lambert, Rob Morrow, and Clark Worden, provide premium performances worthy of any destination cabaret. Cheeky, gorgeous, and fun, their high kicks and twirls are reason enough to see this show. William Nickles does very well as the nervous son, Jean-Michel. His rendition of “With Anne on My Arm” is polished and full of light. Robert Kingery delivers a strong comedic performance as Jacob, the assistant to Georges who desperately wants his chance in the spotlight. Kingery uses his height to good advantage for the physical comedy while revving up his chops in “Cocktail Counterpoint.” Rusty Henle and Susan McNeese Lynch parody Ultra Conservatives as Dindon and his wife Marie. Lynch has a ball as the steadfast wife who is constantly shushed until she is given her time to shine with a high note. Henle hits the mark with aplomb in the finale, further proving that normal is what you make it.
The laughs are aplenty in La Cage aux Folles at Pandora Productions. And in this bouncy romp, it proves that normal is relative and that family comes first. But most importantly, the best of times is now.
La Cage aux Folles
March 6 – 21, 2020
At The Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
For tickets go to: Pandoraproductions.org
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!
2020 Arts-Louisville/Broadway World Theatre Award Sponsorship provided by: