Theatre: La Cage Aux Folles


271120072894, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

Sometimes you can't keep a good polyester down... First preview at the Chocolate Factory the curtain had a mind of its own. And so did the costumes... Sitting in front row I got a lap full of beads during a particularly vigorous number... Then there was the occasional firm grip of Philip Quast on my shoulder... Was all this intimate production of Jerry Herman's big gay musical worth it?

Well as a musical it is a pretty dated show. It isn't called La Cage Awful for nothing. Back in the eighties it was no doubt all very daring so you could probably overlook the incoherent story and weak characterisations. On the plus side (and unlike the new Priscilla musical that will be making it's way to London) it is an original musical and not some jukebox of crap disco tracks. And it has a few nice numbers. In this production where I was sitting so close to the stage in such an intimate space there were a few nice touches such as the affection the two leads show in the song "Song in the Sand". The magic was only lost when a speaker went "Fzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt".

Watching it at a table with John (and Sue and Barbara who we just met) we did find that with a few G&Ts the show went down well. But along with the West End Whingers and their entourage there seemed to be a common view that the show we saw was perhaps not quite ready yet. But it was the first preview. And as an audience we probably failed to give the show enough support by being wild and crazy. Maybe we needed more G&Ts but maybe with more audience heckling the actors may have felt inclined to slap us about a bit...

Still as a work in progress some observations:

  • Front row seats are great to see the actors roll their eyes - particularly when the sound didn't work or the curtain didn't go up (or down)
  • I wouldn't say the dancing was thrilling - it was more frightening - and amazing that the actors didn't hurt something when they were "mounting" the bird cage
  • Una Stubbs should stand further back from the front row audience - particularly when I thought John was going to reach out and strangle her for mugging
  • Get the cast some flu vaccines. Ok most of London is coming down with this virus that is around but after paying to get the vaccine I seem to be doing okay even when I am surrounded by people hacking up a lung either at work or at the chorus.

Given their last Christmas musical was Little Shop of Horrors and the previous Christmas was Sunday in the Park with George, one still couldn't help but be disappointed...

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