'La Cage aux Folles'
soars at 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
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
The problem is, his parents are flamboyantly
gay owners of a high-profile transvestite club and hers are fundamentalist
leaders of the France's
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
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.