REVIEW: 'La Cage Aux Folles'

Photo by Charr Crail

by Kel Munger

It seems cliché, but it takes love to make a family function—and families can be dysfunctional in all sorts of ways, starting with selfishness.

In La Cage Aux Folles, the hit Broadway musical based on the classic French comedy of the same name, the question of who’s really being selfish takes center stage. Georges (Brent Barrett) and Albin (Alan Mingo, Jr.) have been partners in life and love for decades, living and working on the French Riviera where they have an apartment above their cabaret, the titular La Cage Aux Folles. Together, they’ve built a business, a home, and raised a son, Jean-Michel (Michael Lowney), from Georges’ brief relationship with a woman.

But now Jean-Michel has fallen in love with the daughter of an ultra-conservative, hyper-religious and anti-gay politician, and his fear of losing her leads him to demand that his parents pretend to be people they are not.

The show rests on the able and talented shoulders of Barrett and Mingo—although the ensemble of singer-dancers from the nightclub provide plenty of glitz, glamour and glams, the real heart of this production is in the love between Georges and Albin, love of a most unselfish sort that is willing to sacrifice for family. In both vocals (the love song “Song on the Sand” and the anthem of self-acceptance, “I Am What I Am”) and acting, Barrett and Mingo make this a powerful testament to the staying power of a true marriage.

And then there’s the show: incredible (and rapid) costume changes with all the glitter, feathers, and ruffles one could ever want; outstanding choreography that includes acrobatics and showgirl high-kicks; and a wonderful descent from the rafters in the opening that showcases the production skills at Music Circus.

That’s a lot of fun, but the reason to see La Cage Aux Folles is its relevance. Though it’s set in the ’70s (you’ve got to love those flair-leg pants), La Cage reminds us that our current cultural polarization is still dividing families and that the real solution is to love and accept each other, despite our differences.

La Cage Aux Folles, 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $35-$65. Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H Street; (916) 557-1999; Through August 24.  

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