Mixing dress-up and domesticity in the Golden Apple's La Cage aux Folles.
By Kay Kipling
Auntie Mame, Dolly Levi and Zaza/Albin—composer Jerry Herman is nothing if not consistent in his devotion to women who know how to make an entrance. And once the tapping transvestites who open up La Cage aux Folles with the number We Are What We Are exit, the stage is clear for the “female” half of that great homosexual team, Georges and Albin, to deliver what her audience expects.
Fortunately, Christopher Swan, in a role that’s quite a departure from what we’ve seen him do at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre before, is up to the challenge. He conveys the comedic gold of his character, a nightclub entertainer loaded with sequins, wigs and overdone affectations who frequently approaches hysteria, but also the dignity and warmth that lie beneath that baggage, particularly in his relationships with “husband” Georges (Brian Minyard, also doing fine, confident work here) and Georges’ biological son, Jean-Michel (Craig Weiskerger), whom Albin has helped to raise.
Brian Minyard, Roy Johns and Christopher Swan in the Golden Apple’s La Cage aux Folles.
The catalyst for the play, of course, is Jean-Michel’s impending engagement to Anne (Kathryn Ohrenstein), who has the misfortune of being the daughter of an arch-conservative politician (Roy Johns) bound to find Georges and Albin’s lifestyle too outré even for St. Tropez. Jean-Michel, blinded by love, wants Albin to simply disappear when the time comes to invite Anne’s family for a visit, but Albin isn’t going quietly—especially when Jean-Michel’s biological (and long absent) mother finks out on him once again. Before you can say “mon cher Maman,” Albin is putting a little more mascara on to play the maternal role.
It’s all entertaining enough, and director-choreographer Dewayne Barrett, who also plays one of Les Cagelles, gets maximum mileage out of his showgirls/boys on the big splashy numbers, aided by suitably excessive costumes designed by Dee Richards. Keone Dent also scores as the butler/maid Jacob, even more over-the-top and outrageous in behavior than Albin on his worst day.
But the best moments of this production of La Cage come when Swan and Minyard are together alone onstage, totally believable as a longtime couple having some issues but still in love. Take that, Proposition 8.
La Cage aux Folles continues through Jan. 18 at the Golden Apple; call 366-5454 or visit thegoldenapple.com