La Cage Aux Foilles – Review – Leeds Grand
La Cage aux Folles – Review
Leeds Grand, March 2017
by Daniel Roach
Its been over 30 years since the first stage musical of La Cage aux Folles and it now arrives at Leeds Grand Theatre in a glistening array of feathers and glitter and is certainly dressed to impress.
From the moment the music starts and the opening act graces the stage, the chorus girls dazzle with the first number ‘We Are What We Are’. Palpable elation surges through the audience.
The extravagant and detailed set is centred around La Cage aux Folles nightclub and features many characters bursting with camp humour and elaborate dance routines, all focusing on a beautifully played-out message of inclusion, diversity and love.
Without doubt, John Partridge steals the show as Albin (or his fabulous alter ego Zaza). His humour and skill as an actor is clear and his interaction with the audience is infectious. Several times during the show he uses slapstick comedy to insult, yet still leaves the crowd laughing until it hurts.
“The finale is everything you want it to be”
A particularly spectacular moment is his performance of ‘I Am What I Am’, a hit for Gloria Gaynor in 1983. The vulnerability is clear to see, yet the power, delivery and grace of his voice leaves hairs on necks standing to attention.
Adrian Zmed plays the character of Georges, Albin’s partner and nightclub owner. His part contrasts neatly as he performs many of the slower, less upbeat songs, yet does so with grace and with strength. In particular, his performance of ‘Look Over There’ is truly outstanding.
Veteran West End legend Marti Webb as Jacqueline impresses as she continually attempts to upstage Zaza while she performs. She’s a constant force throughout the show, despite a role with obvious limits.
One of the original three man creative team behind the success of La Cage aux Folles, Jerry Herman, while watching the emotional reaction of a couple in the crowd during an early staging of the musical said: “I knew then that we had something”. He remains most defiantly correct.
The finale is everything you want it to be – and goes back to how it all started. With glitter, stilettos, feathers and a real showgirl performance.
La Cage Aux Folles is a mesmerising array of desire and fantasy and, once again, it leaves the audience on their feet cheering for more.