Tuesday, February 9, 2016

theatre review - LA CAGE AUX FOLLES - Fountain Hills Theater - January 28, 2016

Roger Prenger, Sky Donovan, and Patrick Russo
Photo by Patty Torrilhon

Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 14th.

 "... with an optimistic message at its center and a heart-filled story about family that everyone could relate to, La Cage aux Folles became a big fat Broadway smash, won six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Book and Score, and ran for over four years. Now, more than thirty years since it first premiered, the central story and lovable characters still resonate and Fountain Hills Theater's production is a winner, featuring a spectacularly outlandish, yet lovingly grounded, performance by Patrick Russo.......the central theme of acceptance still has relevance. Jerry Herman's songs are still vibrant, with the anthems "I Am What I Am" and "The Best of Times," and the ballads "Song on the Sand" and "Look Over There," still exceptionally moving. Harvey Fierstein's book is succinct, fast paced but full of emotion, pathos, and many laugh out loud moments....Sure, the "La Cage aux Folles" nightclub musical sequences may not have as much glitz and glamor as those in a larger production, but the intimacy of the Fountain Hills stage allows a deeper connection with the characters.Director Peter J. Hill gets just about everything right with this production. He manages to make almost every comic moment zing, but also ensures that the emotional heart at the center of the characters beats strong. He has cast four talented men in the main roles, plus a fun group of actors to play the kooky ensemble and the wild "Cagelles" dancers. As Georges and Albin, Roger Prenger and Patrick Russo form a realistic duo...Russo is simply sensational as Albin...He runs the gamut of emotions and is at times strong and at other times weak, campy at times yet also deeply serious. Russo has a lovely stage presence and singing voice...Prenger makes for a charming host of the club and brings a stern yet loving tenderness to the relationship with Russo's Albin. Both Prenger and Russo have a firm emotional connection with each other and the other actors in the show.As the mostly self-absorbed son Jean-Michel, Sky Donovan is appealing, with a sweet demeanor. Even though Jean-Michel implores his father to pretend to be "normal" for just the one night, and to get Albin out of the house, the emotional pleas never come across as insulting....Naughty, witty and full of heart, I highly recommend a visit to the wacky, seedy but very loving drag nightclub and the endearing production of La Cage aux Folles at Fountain Hills Theater."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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