LA CAGE AUX FOLLES
Skylight Music Theatre, 2016
2016 Footlights Award Winner: Best Equity Musical
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
Skylight’s La Cage Aux Folles, a playful spectacle…if any musical cried out to be loved for its surface charms, it’s this one, which Skylight Music Theatre opened Friday at the Broadway Theatre Center to an appreciative audience.
Director-choreographer John de los Santos‘ staging of the drag club scenes was so excellent I occasionally found myself impatient with the show’s plot elements, eager to get back to La Cage.
Nobody would ever call ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ a holiday show, but as staged by Skylight Music Theater with a couple of magical stars, it’s a warm-hearted and very funny tale of what it means to be in a family – both the benefits and the responsibilities. Drag queen shows are widely known for the extravagance of the costumes and the outrageous nature of the performances, and this production, under the direction and choreography of John de los Santos and with costumes by Chris March, a refugee from television’s ‘Project Runway’, don’t disappoint.
We need ‘La Cage’ more than ever. Skylight’s production of the musical shows it’s still relevant — and tons of fun. There is constant diversion and amusement in the enchanting Cagelles (six, sometimes seven men imitating feminine movement and dancing, at moments spoofing movie queens and dominatrix stereotypes). They literally prance around the stage in enormous pheasant headpieces, handling massive bridal trains, scarves and other props and sight gags. The accomplished choreography and rapid-moving spectacle stem from John de los Santos.
The phenomenal production emphasizes ‘a little guts and lots of glitter’ to the delight of the audience. An especially talented group of Cagelles, seven male dancers, wears [Chris] March’s glamorous costumes, fitted ostrich or peacock feathers and flamingo sleeves, while dancing to director John de los Santos‘ choreography. Combined with an equally accomplished ensemble and seven piece orchestra, this creative team truly glitters all night long.
“Skylight offers a gift-wrapped production… Both [Ray Jivoff and Norman Moses] execute their roles superbly, surrounded by a top-notch cast that includes a parade of lovelies known as the Cagelles. These half-dozen men are performers who can hold their own against any real-life drag stars. But it’s not the glitz that won 11 Tony Awards, instead it’s the show’s insistence that one look beneath the outward affectations to see the two-decade devotion between Georges and Albin. Director John de los Santos‘ sensitive staging demonstrates the emotional depth of betrayal felt by Albin when he’s at first shoved offstage at the arrival of Jean-Michel’s future in-laws.”