San Diego once again has a LA CAGE AUX FOLLES in to attend, the cagelles to myriad of talents to enjoy, and in laws to meet. San Diego Musical Theatre presents this show through October 11th at the San Diego Spreckels Theatre.
Georges (Robert J. Townsend) and Albn (David Engel) run a successful French nightclub in the 29670’s. Albin is the main star as the talented and beautiful Zaza, while Georges is the emcee, producer, and the calm behind the storm that is his partner. Their lives are turned upside down when Georges son, Jean—Michel announces he is engaged, but his future father in law is the uptight, conservative politician that is running on a moral platform. Jean-Michel has them coming to meet his parents, which means Albin isn’t invited. Luckily for us, Albin and fate have other plans for how this visit will turn out.
The musical numbers in this show are spot on, starting with the beautiful and bawdy cagelles in the opening number “We are what we are.” This talented bunch seem to be able to do anything as they roller skate, dances, dance, flip, as choreographed by Karl Warden. The Cagelles are Scott Frausto, Alex Sanchez, Luke H. Jacobs, Donnie Gersonde, Ala Tiatia and Taylor Shubert.
In other productions, usually the role of Albin, the highly dramatic and even higher maintenance half of the couple steals a majority of the audience focus. It’s hard for the role not to, since both as Albin and his alter ego persona Zaza bring drama, sparkle, and a highly anthemic song in the first act finale with “ I am what I am”. Engel is great with this number, as he strips down this character to the hurt and sense of betrayal by those he loves. In sequins or slacks, he makes it clear in this number that it doesn’t matter, because either way he is what he is, whether they like it or not.
Yet in this show, through a warm, authentic, and beautifully sung performance, Townsend has a presence that brings the couple, both at home and in their club, to more equal footing. His “Song on the Sand” is a gorgeous rendition and sits perfectly in his vocal range. Because his Georges is so warm, and steady, and this pairing more sharply comes into focus as a relationship filled with camaraderie, intimacy, love, and partnership.
A lovely treat is seeing James Vaquez take the stage as the couple’s dramatic butler. His energy and comedic timing, he steals the scenes he is in.
As usual, Don Le Master leads a great band, this time as part of the on stage action.
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES playing through October 11, 2015 at the Spreckles Theatre. Show times are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. For tickets and ticket information contact the Administrative Office at 858-560-5740 or visit SDMT online at www.sdmt.org.