City Paper sent two theater queens to watch the Footlight Players' production of La Cage aux Folles. They were two of maybe four other queens in the audience Friday night. For the record, they had never seen the musical before. But they do have more drag cabaret stories than Carrie Bradshaw has shoes.
Greg: What is La Cage aux Folles?
Shane: It's a show about these two gay guys: Georges is a cabaret club owner and his partner, Albin, is the top drag performer. The couple has raised a son who returns from a vacation ...
G: In heavy stage make-up.
S: And he's engaged to his sweetheart, who happens to be the daughter of an anti-gay conservative. So, his dads try to play straight when the future in-laws visit and comedy ensues. Unfortunately, the comedy really doesn't ensue until the second act. Through the first act, I felt like I was in community theater hell.
G: I have to say that I blame the audience.
S: The drag club Cagelles were introduced, and it was like crickets in the audience.
G: And there were some terrific lines in the first few scenes that went without a response from the audience.
S: The whole first act was pretty rocky. It seemed like it took them a while to get comfortable up there.
G: There were some stand-out performances.
S: Brandon Joyner, who played Albin and his stage alter-ego, ZaZa.
G: Agreed. Unfortunately, his first number was intermittently muted because of the staging.
S: But "I Am What I Am" was well done. It didn't reach "I'm Telling You" (from Dreamgirls) levels, but it was good.
G: There was also good chemistry between Georges and Albin.
S: The whole scene in Act Two when his partner tries to butch Albin up was hilarious. The chemistry alone was worth the price of admission.
G: For readers who don't know, what does "butch it up" mean?
S: It means learning to spit, grunt, scratch ...
G: And decipher a sports page chart.
S: (blank stare)
G: It's in the sports section ... just take my word for it.
S: The Cagelles also were really good.
G: Mercedes (played by Jason Looney) was a favorite. She just stood out.
S: From the moment she walked on stage, I saw nipples and I loved her.
G: Yes. There was a slight wardrobe malfunction.
S: And the make-up for the girls, the real girls (Editor's Note: the ones with lady parts) ...
G: Oh, we'll get letters for that one.
S: Their make-up was just drag-tastic. Awesome job. And they really held their own.
G: We don't want to say too much about the finale, but between the in-laws and the Cagelles, it was terrific.
S: Hal Truesdale, as the conservative father, was great and he really sold the final number.
G: And, before we go, let's talk a little about the message. This play is some 25 years old.
S: The quote Robert Ivey uses in the director's notes from co-creator Jerry Herman really says it best: " ... There are still politicians and religious leaders who make a living out of preaching hellfire on this, and, as long as that is the case, La Cage has a role to play in the world."
G: Right now, it's so relevant, because we're at this tipping point.
S: But there will be a time in 20 years when audiences will be watching this show and it'll be like watching Anne Frank.
G: They'll say, "People really went through this?"
S: And they'll say, "Drag queens really wore that?"
G: Well, I don't remember that scene in Anne Frank, but yeah, that's about it.