Monday, August 9, 2010
La Cage Aux Folles!
TD and I recently went with our friend Mark to La Cage Aux Folles on Broadway. I was excited to see it because I never saw the original which was up on Broadway in the eighties or the 2004 revival. The original was a big glitzy production and TD said it was in a huge Broadway theater. This scaled down version is more realistic and intimate. In June it won three Tony awards, including best revival of a musical.
La Cage Aux Folles is based on the 1973 French play of the same name, later adapted into a French movie and the American movie The Bird Cage. The Broadway production has music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Years ago my friend Abby and I went to see Torch Song Trilogy, written by and starring Harvey Fierstein. After the show we ran into him in a restaurant, and he said to me, in his gravely voice, "You have a nice nose."
Anyhoo, La Cage is about a gay couple, Georges, the manager of a Saint Tropez drag night club and his partner Albin, the drag queen star of the club. The night club features performances by Les Cagelles, the fanastically talented drag dancers. Conflict kicks in when the couple's engaged son wants Albin to leave their home during a visit by his fiancee's ultra-conservative parents.
Georges is played by Kelsey Grammar of Frasier and Cheers fame. He's a wonderful actor and a wonderful singer.
And Albin is played by Douglas Hodge. Who was kind of breathtaking.
Douglas Hodge is a classical actor who is English, married, and has two children. Albin is flamboyant, emotional, funny, dramatic. But the parts that mesmerized me were when he was being quiet, hurt, moved. With a whisper and a sigh and a flutter of a wrist and a tilt of his head he held the entire theater in the palm of his hand. Such a gift. Douglas Hodge won a Tony for this performance in June.
Just before the show started, guess who came streaking down the aisle to take seats across from us in the fifth row? Sarah Jessica Parker, her husband Matthew Broderick, and the guy from Bravo TV, Andy Cohen. Sarah Jessica was wearing a long sparkly cardigan and tank top and skinny jeans. Hair in a top knot. When Obama was running for president, TD and I attended a fund raiser hosted by Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker who spoke eloquently and impressively about her political beliefs. In the theater, her arrival caused a subtle stir in the neighboring audience. Well, it's always good to have celebrities in your midst.
This production's dancing and music and costumes are colorfully entertaining. At the heart of the show though really is a very tender love story between a long time couple who are devoted to each other.
The actors really pulled it off very movingly. It's a universal story, and every body can relate to it. Anyone would enjoy this show. Certainly, SJP was enjoying it, smiling up at the stage with her chin resting on her folded hands. I think if you were a performer on stage it would be quite a treat to have Sarah Jessica Parker beaming up at you. Did you know that from 1977 to 1981 she starred in the Broadway cast of Annie, written by our friend Tom Meehan. That girl can really sing. I wish SJP would do a Broadway musical.
By the curtain call the entire audience was up on its feet clapping. It reminded me of our experience at the end of Hairspray (Harvey Fierstein was in that too) and Hair, when the cast is singing and clapping at the edge of the stage and the audience is standing and clapping – there is at that point no division between the two, it's one happy, uplifting, exuberant Broadway experience.