Wednesday, October 3, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 30


'La Cage aux Folles' soars at Bienvenue Theatre

Bienvenue Theatre
La Cage aux Folles
Christian DeVries, Director
Andy Clements, choreographer
*** 1/2 (out of five stars)
3722 Washington Ave.

By Kristin Buchanan
Daily Cougar Staff

When Hollywood adapted La Cage aux Folles, or The Birdcage, into the 1990s with help from comedic heavyweights Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, the silver screen shone bright with the fine-feathered film.

Dalton DeHart/Bienvenue Theatre

The cagelles perform the opening number, "We Are What We Are," at the Bienvenue Theatre's La Cage aux Folles. The Daily Cougar's own Rich R.
Risma, a senior communication major, is pictured on the bottom right.

The original production in 1984 was a smash hit itself, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, written by Harry

La Cage aux Folles, with lyrics by Jerry Herman, is lush with the delightful charm of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals with the flashiness and
unapologetic bawdiness of Bob Fosse. The music is full of fun, memorable melodies and catchy lyrics.

Bienvenue Theatre's production of La Cage aux Folles glimmers with all the glitz and glam of the theater world. From beginning to end, the performers
sparkle onstage, brimming with personality and joie de vivre.

The play opens with transvestite performers singing, "We Are What We Are." The song is not just an opening number, but a theme for the entire musical.

The story is about Jean Michel (Chris Zelco), who is young and in love and wants to marry Anne (Michele Maslyk) -- that is, if he can only get their parents
to agree. 

The problem is, his parents are flamboyantly gay owners of a high-profile transvestite club and hers are fundamentalist leaders of the France's
Conservative Party.

Jean Michel convinces his dad, Georges (Christian DeVries), to ask his birth mother to come back and pretend to be a traditional family, while Georges'
partner, Albin (Mikel Reper), disappears for a while. Plans fall through, and in spite of his hurt feelings, Albin decides to help Jean Michel.

When the in-laws, Deputy and Mademoiselle Dindon (Gene Griesbach and Beverly Hutchinson) come over, the cat eventually comes out of the bag and
threatens Jean Michel and Anne's happiness. 

With the help of Jacqueline (Gizelle Lourdes D'Mello) and her handy media connections, the young lovers are granted freedom to marry and the Dindons
are forced to escape in drag costume to avoid controversy. One of the highlights of the show is seeing the family, including the Deputy, clad in feminine

Zelko plays a wonderful Jean Michele. With a beautiful tenor voice and elegant posture, he becomes a high point of the show. 

Unfortunately, Maslyk gives a limp performance playing opposite Jean Michele as Anne. She seems to be merely reciting lines rather than actually
portraying a character.

Thankfully, there is enough acting talent to distract from others' shortcomings.

Omari Tau Williams is darling as Jacob, the sassy butler/maid. He nearly steals the show with his outstanding enthusiasm and energy. His costumes,
ranging from baroque servant to 1980s-era fly-girl with sequins and spandex, fit in perfectly with his character.

The trademark of a truly good performance is something that draws the audience in. 

Bienvenue Theatre's La Cage aux Folles does just that. Intermittently, Albin, the theater's diva, interacts with the audience, asking them questions and
flirting with the men in the crowd.

If the audience members can enjoy themselves and have a good time viewing a performance, then the company has done its job. Unquestionably, the
cast and production crew of La Cage aux Folles does a heck of a job.

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