La Cage Aux Folles first took to Broadway in 1983 becoming an instant hit with audiences and won six Tony awards from its first run. Since then the show has since gone on to tour theatres internationally and continued to receive critical acclaim, included the Olivier award for Best Musical Revival but now, for the first time ever, this much loved show is on its first ever UK tour and is currently running at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
Our own girl about town, Lilith Hunt-Sheppard went along to see the hit musical for herself.
I have watched the Hollywood remake of La Cage, The Birdcage, perhaps more times than I should admit to and so know the story of La Cage Aux Folles well, however this was the first time I’d seen the musical so was interested to see how Hollywood had adapted the show for the big screen. The general storyline remains pretty much unchanged; the story of a non traditional family, two dads who own a cabaret club and with one performing nightly as a female impersonator, whose son has proposed to his dream girl. The problem is her father isn’t the most liberally minded man, in fact it’s his job as a high profile politician to be far from liberal. As is customary the time approaches for the two sets of parents to meet and rather than be honest, the couple come up with a ply to keep their homosexuality quiet and their son’s upcoming nuptials on track. Well that’s the plan anyway…….
Fans of Grease 2 will recognise Adrian Zmed playing one half of our heroic husbands George. Zmed’s performance throughout is brilliant, playing the part of dotting father and husband that tries to keep both sides happy as the chaos unravels. Vocally he doesn’t disappoint, with some beautiful harmonies with his son Jean-Michelle, played by Dougie Cater.
By George’s side throughout is La Cage star and head drag queen, Zaza aka Albin, played by John Partridge, best know as Christian in Eastenders who absolutely stole the show. Adding a touch of northern humour to the character, Partridge keeps the audience in hysterics and their energy levels up – at times the cast were trying to hold back laughs too. Engaging with the audience and totally unscripted, his double entendres and cheeky humour are reminiscent of any brilliant drag artist he also surprises with a voice of incredible power and range adding a real touch of magic to the musical.
The stage is as everything you would expect from a drag club. Mirrors etched with gold peacocks, surrounded by deep red velvet drapes and lit up steps centre stage where proudly stand tonight’s La Cagelles. Dressed to kill in faux fur and sequins, they certainly shine through opening hit I am What I Am. The Cagelles are amazing chorus girls with incredible energy and strong voices, pulling off their wigs to the applauding crowd. With a cheeky wink and blow of kiss they sashay on and off through out show each time with more glitz and glamour at every costume change.
Other favourite in the show is Albin’s maid Jacob, played by Samson Ajewole. Always at the beckon call of the clubs leading lady, mincing in her maids outfit she takes no prisoners when it comes to meeting the prospective in laws. Local restaurant owner and La Cage regular Jacqueline , played by Martinis Webb, is another favourite often putting Zaza on the spot and randomly bursting into song when she likes, she shows true loyalty to her friends in their time of need.
There was no weak spot to this show with every scene filled with real humour, fabulous musical talent and a cast that simply fills your heart with love.
Five stars…. #IAmWhatIAm
La Cage Aux Folles is on till Saturday 20th May at Birmingham Hippodrome with an audio description during Saturday’s matinee.
Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre
Hurst Street, Southside
Birmingham, B5 4TB
Tickets & Information: 0844 338 5000