“La Cage aux Folles” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ March 18, 2013


Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

“La Cage aux Folles” is a delightful entertainment extravaganza that explodes all over the Phoenix Theatre stage.  It’s a less formalized production than the recent Broadway revival but it’s still an outrageously fun and frolicking delight.

Director Michael Barnard attracted a superb cast who execute the various roles with style as they find amazingly subtle comic moments that adds much humor to the already hysterical Jerry Herman musical.  The familiar story is set in a St. Tropez nightclub where female impersonators cavort in an elaborate, entertaining, and successful revue.

It stars ZaZa, played by Albin, partner of club owner and host Georges.  The pair raised Georges’ son, Jean Michel, the result of Georges’ one fling with the boy’s mother.  Jean Michel announces his intention to marry Anne, the daughter of anti-gay politician, Edouard Dindon and his wife, Marie.  Since Anne’s parents are coming to meet Jean Michel’s parents, the boy wants Albin hidden.  An attempt to include Jean Michel’s mother at the meeting fails so Albin, even though hurt at his exclusion, plays the boy’s mother in drag.  Albin does a bit of his show and he whips off his wig as he always ends each club show.  Anne’s father condemns the pair until he needs them to escape the club without the waiting reporters discovering his identity.  The show boasts a stellar Herman score of catchy tunes that create the wildly entertaining musical numbers.

The Phoenix Theatre production uses every device to make the show thoroughly enjoyable entertainment.  You are guaranteed of having great fun at “La Cage aux Folles” and, even though you know the silly story ends happily, it’s a great framework for the smashing musical diversions.

Barnard’s production dazzles with lush but overly flamboyant costumes, a frenzied staging, and delightful dances choreographed with impish flourish by Linda Love-Simmons.  The fine cast brings off the shenanigans with superb precision and comic aplomb.  Included is a chorus of show dancers, seven men and two women, who play the female impersonators.  Yes, I figured out the two women but it wasn’t easy.

Robert Kolby Harper is a wonderfully feminine Albin and he’s hysterical as the mannered ZaZa.  Rusty Ferracane is staunchly masculine as Georges but there is a genuine feeling of love between the pair.  The only misstep is Ferracane’s awful wig that fights the actor’s otherwise suave and debonair take on Georges.  Colin Ross’s convincingly honest Jean Michel couldn’t be better.  Only David Vining fizzles as he overplays and ruins Anne’s uptight father, Monsieur Dindon.

Elaborate sets and garishly outlandish costumes make the show’s visual appeal perfect and it looks like Phoenix Theatre spent a fortunate on the production.

The entertainingly delightful “La Cage aux Folles” continues through April 7.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A

One Response to ““La Cage aux Folles” – Phoenix Theatre”

  1. Marty Garretson said:

    Mar 31, 13 at 17:28

    I had the pleasure of seeing “La Cage Aux Folles” yesterday, the 30th, Matinee. It was superb. The casting was so well done, the costumes were outstanding, the dancing better than anything I have seen on stage. I absolutely loved it!

    Rusty Ferracane, an actor I have followed in recent years, is tremendously gifted. He has an incredible singing voice but is also such a talented actor. Even when he is spot-lighted, viewing another person’s scene, he is superb. He silently shows such depth of emotional understanding of what the performing actor is singing and feeling… “I am Who I am” … It brought tears to my eyes.

    Thank you Phoenix Theater for presenting such a wonderful uplifting touching musical.

    It was your best yet!