Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 16, 2015

La Cage aux Folles

Goodspeed, East Haddam, Conn.
through Sept. 10, 2015
By Bernadette Johnson

Glitter, glamour, and glitz! The perfect setting for Goodspeed’s phenomenal production of “La Cage aux Folles.”

James Lloyd Reynolds and Jamison Stern are Georges, a cabaret owner, and his partner, Albin, taken aback by “their” son’s revelation that he is to marry “a girl”— not only a girl, but also one whose father is an ultraconservative politico. Change is imperative in order to impress the future in-laws. Not only must the home be sanitized, but also all appearance of personal impropriety must be eradicated.

Photo by Diane Sobolewski
Stern is, without a doubt, totally and convincingly the outlandish diva, whether applying “A Little More Mascara,” entertaining on the “La Cage” stage as female-impersonator Zaza, interacting with the audience or engaging in high drama as the inimitable Albin. Even a simple line such as “I deboned a chicken” draws whoops and cheers, and his John Wayne imitation is as side-splitting as his “I Am What I Am” declaration, the show’s signature anthem, is heartrending.

Reynolds provides the perfect counterpart as the down-to-earth “homosexual plain” to Stern’s outrageous transvestite. His “Song on the Sand” and “Look Over There” are at once romantic and sensitive.

As the couple’s butler/maid Jacob, a wannabe performer, and flamboyant homosexual, Cedric Leiba, Jr. is a standout. Appearing in increasingly outlandish costumes, striking farcical poses and delivering over-the--top commentaries, Leiba is a definite crowd-pleaser.

Other standouts include Conor Ryan as Jean-Michel, the “prodigal” son. His “With Anne on My Arm” with Leiba and Jean-Michel’s intended, Anne (Kristen Martin), is sentimental and heart-warming. And Mark Zimmerman is inflammatory and moralistic as Anne’s father, Edouard Dindon.

Kudos are called for all-around. Michael Schweikardt’s luxuriant sets and Michael McDonald’s glittering costumes provide the backdrop for the Cagelles, transvestite performers who defy you to define their sex, which proves quite the challenge thanks to Mark Adam Rampmeyer’s makeovers. “You’ll find it tough guessing our gender,” is an understatement. No fair peeking at the playbill.

Choreographer Ralph Perkins hits a high note with the ensemble’s gilded birdcage number, a flight of fancy in green and gold plumage by McDonald.
This production is flawlessly delightful, as Goodspeed’s patrons have come to expect, and they showed their appreciation with a rousing standing ovation.