Written by 7:14 pm Garden Grove, Gem Theater, Musical, Review, Theater

One More Productions presents: La Cage Aux Folles @ The GEM Theatre – Review

photo credit: Ron Lyons

Written by Daniella Litvak

The history of La Cage aux Folles’ adaptations is almost as colorful as the story it tells.   It began as a play. The play inspired a series of French films. Then came the American remake – The Birdcage starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Most important is the multi-Tony Award-winning musical, now playing at The Gem Theatre.

Story:

The title La Cage aux Folles refers to the drag cabaret in Saint-Tropez run by Georges (Robert Edward). Albin (Damien Lorton), performing as Zaza, is the cabaret’s star and Georges’ spouse. Together, they raised a son, Jean-Michel (John Lindahl). Jean-Michel has come home to announce he’s engaged to Anne (Julia Iacopetti). However, Anne’s father is Edouard Dindon, the ultra-conservative head of the “Tradition, Family and Morality” party. Worse yet, Edouard and his wife, Marie (Nickie Gentry), are coming down to meet Jean-Michel’s parents and are expecting to find an equally conservative and straight couple.

La Cage Aux Folles Presented by One More Productions at the GEM Theater in Garden Grove, CA © 2023 Ron Lyon Photo.

La Cage aux Folles has been described as a farce, and it’s a funny show, but the farcical elements are surprisingly secondary. The big meeting between Albin, Georges, and the Dindons happens fairly late and is resolved within a few scenes. The primary focus is character work and the exploration of spousal and parental-child relationships.   The plotting meanders at times, but the themes are thoughtfully presented.

Acting:

Lorton and Edward shine in the leading roles of Albin and Georges. They have great chemistry with each other and Lindahl, who plays their son. “Song on the Sand” was one of my favorite songs of the night because Edward’s performance was emotionally affecting. Lorton knocks out the musical’s most famous song, “I Am What I Am.” You may have heard “I Am What I Am” as a standalone song, but you will find new reasons for appreciating it when you listen to it in context. Lorton’s improv skills were sharp during the audience interaction portions.

The supporting cast is strong as well. Lindahl and Iacopetti are sweet together as Jean-Michel and Anne. Peter Crisafulli as Jacob, Wyatt Buckle as Francis, and Adriana Sanchez as Jacqueline had standout comedic moments. Les Cagelles – the cabaret drag performers – looked fabulous and danced terrifically. Their cancan number was a highlight.

Costume: 

Given the primary setting of a drag cabaret, you expect the costuming to be glamorous, campy, and vibrant. The Gem did not disappoint. There’s a lot of variety, from Albin’s evening gowns to Les Cagelles’ sailor outfits. They’re colorful and sparkle. The costuming alone makes this a fun show to watch.

Set:

The set design works. I wish more had been done to transform Georges and Albin’s home into a place pleasing for the Dindons. The dialogue implies massive change, but the visuals don’t sell it.   However, the space is utilized well. Performers walk through the audience and make grand entrances downstairs. This is not the first show I’ve seen where the musicians are playing above the action, as opposed to below in an orchestra pit. But seeing it here just added to the topsy-turvy vibe of the show.

Review
8.6 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Story8.5
Acting9
Set & Design7.5
Costumes9
Entertainment9
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Great Show! OCR Recommended! Aug 10 – Sep 17, 2023.

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