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A Theatrical Review of La Cage Aux Folles

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Submitted By tamz165
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A Review of La Cage Aux Folles The flamboyant posters of La Cage promised ostentatious glitz and glamour, and indeed they did not disappoint. With flashy everything-­‐sequinned costumes and extravagant sets W!ld Rice certainly spared no expense in producing this humorous, heartwarming play. And in typical W!ld Rice fashion, this 11 Tony-­‐ awards-­‐nominated musical was adapted for the Singaporean stage, primarily with the show being relocated from St Tropez to Tanjong Pagar and not to forget the numerous local references (think MRT woes, Kopitiam delights and subtle political jibes) thrown in to connect with audiences. La Cage integrated the local aspect seamlessly and the very current references made the show all the more accessible without losing the essence of the script.

La Cage tells the story of Albin (Ivan Heng) and George (Tony Eusoff), a gay couple who own a club where Albin transforms into drag queen ZaZa every night. When their “son” Jonathan (Aaron Khaled) announces his decision to marry Anne, the daughter of Mr C K Tan from the Traditional Family Morality Party-­‐ its name is self explanatory of the trouble to ensue-­‐ Albin finds himself rejected by his ingrate son for his “differences” as they plan to impress Anne and her parents. The play continues with Albin saving the day with a humorous plan when Jonathan’s biological mother bails on them and ends with the forced conformity and acceptance of Anne and her family. The show opens with the Les Cagelles, men and women (more men) dressed in lavish drag performing a riveting snazzy number, “I am What I Am”. Visually, it was definitely a treat-­‐ the fancy flexible yet strong moves and glamorous costumes ensured that eyes were kept glued-­‐ but technically, the Cagelles were not always synchronized and lacked the flawlessness a Broadway remake would demand. Somehow however, the occasional clumsiness and obvious awkwardness of some of the dancers worked in that it added an element of honesty to the number. The lack of gracefulness and the occasional slip-­‐ups and flaws of the Cagelles only served to make bolder the statement of “I am What I Am”.

Another technical flaw of the opening number by the Cagelles was also the fact that for all their grandeur, the words they were singing could not be heard most of the time. This was a true pity since they had such wonderful costumes and make up on, with a song that had the potential to really entertain.

The ensemble that made up the Cagelles was also slightly problematic in that a significant number of their cast were international talents. Not only was this visually ironic for a local play set in Tanjong Pagar, but when some of the Cagelles delivered their lines, in Western accents, the disparity was gratingly jarring to the Singaporean Singlish premise that W!ld Rice had set out for the play.

The performance delivered by Ivan Heng as Albin and ZaZa was convincing, and his impeccable stage presence, comedic timing and versatility in portraying both characters was commendable. Especially touching were the intense scenes that Heng delivered with raw honesty and sincerity.

A drawback however to Heng’ s stellar acting was his less than impressive singing that did not entirely embody his character of ZaZa the diva. Words were occasionally drowned by the orchestra and in general the quality of tone was just lacking.

The very charming Tony Eusoff who paired with Heng was an absolute delight to watch. The two made a very convincing, lovely couple and Eusoff with his deep, enchanting voice and skilled, composed acting truly complemented the flamboyant character of Heng as Albin.

Also relatively enjoyable to watch was Hossan Leong as the butler/maid with his funny antics, crazy expressions and ridiculously revealing outfits. While Leong’s character elicited the most laughs from the audience, his portrayal was somewhat predictable and it felt as if his character could be explored and played with more.

To watch La Cage just for its grand costumes would not be a disappointment. All stops had been pulled out to create a visual spectacle for audiences and the characters have been expertly made-­‐up to provide for an alluring sight. The massive sets for La Cage were a sight to behold, although for a play meant to be extremely flashy and ostentatious, perhaps far more could have been done.

La Cage was also, for lack of a better term, a very “safe” play. The theme of homosexuality that one would expect to be key to the play was overshadowed by moral themes such as filial piety, which probably clicked well with the conservative Singaporean audience. In that regard, my expectation of a play that would finally openly address the issue of homosexuality and its nuances was not very much fulfilled. Nonetheless for its visual appeal and humorous moments, La Cage is probably worth a watch.…...

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