La Cage Aux Folles at The Lowry
La Cage Aux Folles
In its first UK tour, La Cage Aux Folles hits the Lowry stage in an array of sequins and feathers. Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman’s musical (based on the 1973 French play of the same name) follows the story of Georges, the manager of a Saint Tropez nightclub, and his partner, Albin, the club’s star attraction. Their idyllic life in the south of France starts to unravel when Georges’ son Jean-Michel announces his engagement to the daughter of a notorious right-wing politician determined to close down the local colourful night-life.
John Partridge (best known as EastEnders Christian Clarke) takes on the iconic role of Albin (aka drag artiste Zaza). Sounding like a Reece Shearsmith creation, every entrance is an opportunity to flounce; every exit an excuse to de-frock and re-frock. With countless flamboyant costume changes, he absolutely looks the part, but the glitz becomes an excuse to caricature. Yes, Albin is a drama queen, but he has a heart; he is vulnerable. We get a glimpse of this before the interval when Partridge performs the anthemic I Am What I Am, but for much of the long first half he was more panto dame than drag diva. We do warm to him more towards the end as he is stripped back to the man within.
Adrian Zmed (Vince Romano in T.J. Hooker), in his first UK stage role, plays Georges, providing the stability in the relationship and the sensitivity in the story. Marti Webb – stalwart of British musical theatre – appears to be having a good time as Jacqueline during her brief moment in Act 1 and slightly longer opportunity in Act 2, although I’m not sure she actually knew what was going on.
Ultimately, it is Les Cagelles who shine – the stunning long-legged ‘girls’ light up the stage with every entrance, every sequin and every high-heeled dance step.
Martin O’Connor’s staging is spot on, but reference to Canal Street (in the south of France?) and Albin’s self-indulgent audience participation are unnecessary.
The acting and vocals won’t win any awards, but this is what it is: an OTT camp classic full of family angst, love and glamour. It may be a bit loose round the edges but guarantees a hand-clapping night out. Last night’s audience certainly rose to the occasion.
By Garry Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online
Quays Theatre, The Lowry: June 13th-17th 2017
Book your tix today HERE as the show finishes at The Lowry this Sat