San Diego Musical Theatre’s Lively and Lovely ‘La Cage Aux Folles’

SDMT La Cage aux Folles Review

San Diego once again has a La Cage aux Folles to attend, the cagelles to enjoy and in-laws to meet. San Diego Musical Theatre presents this show through October 11th at the Spreckels Theatre.

Georges (Robert J. Townsend) and Albin (David Engel) run a successful French nightclub where Albin works as the talented and beautiful Zaza. Georges is the emcee, producer, and the calm behind the storm that is his partner. Their lives are turned upside down when Georges son, Jean-Michel, announces he is engaged. To make things worse, his future father-in-law, the uptight, conservative politician that is running on a moral platform, is coming to visit, which means Albin isn’t invited. Luckily for us, Albin and fate have other plans for how this visit will turn out.

The musical numbers in this show are spot on, starting with the beautiful and bawdy cagelles in the opening number, ‘We are what we are.’ This talented bunch seem to be able to do anything as they roller skate, dance and flip, as choreographed by Karl Warden. The Cagelles are Scott Frausto, Alex Sanchez, Luke H. Jacobs, Donnie Gersonde, Ala Tiatia and Taylor Shubert.

In other productions, the role of Albin, the highly dramatic and even higher-maintenance half of the couple, steals a majority of the audience focus. It’s hard for the role not too since both as Albin and his alter-ego Zaza bring drama, sparkle, and a highly anthemic song (‘I am what I am’) in the first act finale. Engel is great with this number, as he strips down this character to the hurt and sense of betrayal by those he loves. In sequins or slacks, he makes it clear in this number that it doesn’t matter, because either way he is what he is, whether they like it or not.

Yet in this show, through a warm, authentic and beautifully sung performance, Townsend has a presence that brings the couple, both at home and in their club, to more equal footing. His ‘Song on the Sand’ is a gorgeous rendition and sits perfectly in his vocal range. Because his Georges is so warm and steady, this pairing more sharply comes into focus as a relationship filled with camaraderie, intimacy, love and partnership.

A lovely treat is seeing James Vaquez take the stage as the couple’s dramatic butler. His energy and comedic timing steals every scenes he is in.

As usual, Don Le Master leads a great band, this time as part of the on stage action.

‘La Cage aux Folles’ plays through October 11, 2015 at the Spreckles Theatre. Show times are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. For tickets and ticket information contact the Administrative Office at 858-560-5740 or visit SDMT online at www.sdmt.org

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