Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Playhouse Theatre


La Cage has come a long way from the Boulevard comedy of 1973.
The people's cross-dressed nightclub now boasts a team of Cagelles that could rival the Tiller Girls or the Ballet Boyz, and its numbers have a gloss which Paul Raymond might have envied.

But in this revival the sentimental social comedy quite properly remains at the heart of the show.
Roger Allam is back behind the feathers as a magnificent Zaza, touchingly vulnerable in late middle age, reminiscent of the late LaRue in his priceless routines. Perfect comic timing, and the ability to sell his songs, stagey and simple alike. He's well matched by Philip Quast as Georges, these two memorable Javerts holding the stage and plucking the heartstrings.
Strong support not only from the frighteningly lithe chorus boys, but also from Jason Pennycooke as a pocket-sized Jacob, and Abigail McKern and Iain Mitchell, cyphers as the café patrons, but wonderful as the stage-struck mouse and the angry bigot, who end up dragged into the closing chorus.

Direction by Terry Johnson, choreography by Lynne Page, with Musical Direction by Michael Haslam. The production, originally at the Menier Chocolate Factory, transferred to the West End in October 2008 – booking into 2010, with John Barrowman taking over from Roger Allam in Autumn 2009.

Previously as Albin/Zaza - Douglas Hodge and Graham Norton, seen at the Royal Variety Performance 2008.

and by way of comparison, Denis Quilley at the 1987 Olivier awards

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everything that Michael has said.

I saw the original West End production at the Palladium and was underwhelmed. Of course there it looked wonderful, the frocks were stunning, the scenery moved without anyone getting in the way but I never felt, as I often do, I MUST see that again. Indeed, I couldn't have cared less if I'd never seen the piece again. It was on a friend's reccomendation that I decided to give it a whirl - am I glad I did !

However,this transfer from the Chocolate Factory succeeds brilliantly on a smaller scale and 'rectifies' my previous feelings. In particular the Allam/Quast pairing is simply magical. All the high and lows of a loving, long-lasting relationship are revealed and we feel for them both.

I will be interested to see Barrowman in the drag role, which I believe will be opposite Philip Quast. I wonder if this coupling will work - the publicity shots of Barrowman are of the gorgeous, glamourous showgirl. Check out the photo Michael had attached - no way is Allam anything other than a well dressed aunt !

I will go and see for myself .. and then maybe make further comments !

John Richardson

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