"La Cage Aux Folles"
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Georges and drag artiste Albin, star of la Cage Aux Folles, live an idyllic existence in the heart of St Tropez. But behind the curtains of this sparkling all-singing, all-dancing cabaret they provide at "La Cage", all is about to change.
Georges’ son Jean-Michel announces his engagement to the daughter of a bigoted politician, determined to close down the local colourful night-life. Drama is only just around the corner when a meeting of the parents forces them to cover up their vibrant lifestyle to get the blessing of the marriage from Jean-Michel's fiancee's father. Will Albin be able to play the role of his life to ensure that Jean-Michel can marry his love?
I've seen John Partridge before on stage so I knew that this role, as Albin, would be right up his street. John though surpassed everything that I had expected. He played Albin with a Northern accent, reminiscent of Billy Pearce, and pumped so much comedy and emotion into the role, there were many with tears in their eyes by the final bows. His voice has such amazing range and power, carrying off all of the tunes with the greatest of ease.
His talent for ad-libbing with his interaction with the audience made the "La Cage" show real; as if we had been transported to St Tropez itself for the cabaret. He makes you feel the emotions that Albin was going through, making you forget that you were watching John Partridge, and instead that you were watching Albin.
Basically he made you feel the love story between Georges and Albin, and that fight to be accepted for who he was. A fight that for many people today still rolls on. He shows Albin's strong, confident side as well as Albin's insecurities. One hell of an emotional piece of theatre, an emotion shown on John's face during the standing ovation at the end.
Georges was played by Adrian Zmed. Lovely to see the role not taken over the top but just the right amount of "camp". Adrian's singing voice was a nice compliment to John's, with some nice light and shade moments. His vocals and acting made this a very easy watch.
Playing Jacqueline, the restaurant owner, was the wonderful Marti Webb; a bit of a legend when it comes to musicals.
Dougie Carter, as Jean-Michele, is also the owner of a fine voice and has several moments to show this off to, especially the upbeat "With Anne On My Arm" and the sublime reprise of "Look Over There".
Jean-Michele's fiancee, Anne, was played by Alexandra Robinson, and her parents played by Paul F Monaghan and Su Douglas, two actors with a great sense of fun and also cracking voices.
I must also mention Albin's maid/butler Jacob, played wonderfully by Samson Ajewole. What a wonderfully fun supporting role.
The ensemble were simply the best, and you know when sometimes you may see one who sticks out from the cast, well not here. Every single one of those dancers and supporting cast were seamlessly excellent.
The set was fantastic, like something out of a Hollywood movie. Gary McCann, the set designer was also responsible for the incredible costumes that have to be seen to be appreciated. Glitz and glamour by the bucketload.
Bill Deamer did an amazing job with the choreography, again reminiscent of one of the old Hollywood flicks.
A cracking sound and orchestra, under the musical direction of Mark Crossland, and while we're on the subject of the music, there are some wonderful songs in this soundtrack.
Not only the one we all know "La Cage" for, "I Am What I Am" but the singalong finale of "The Best Of Times" as well as the aforementioned songs "Look Over There" and "With You On My Arm" and the comic "Masculinity".
This musical is for anyone who loves a great night of entertainment from a cast who really know how to work their socks off. It has Hollywood stamped all over it, everything you could wish for from a big, bright, glamorous, glittery show with equal amounts of comedy and pathos. If you don't cry from laughter, you'll just cry.
I really can't praise this show enough and I am so happy that this production was my first experience of "La Cage", having not seen the film, only having the soundtrack to gauge the feel of the piece.
"La Cage Aux Folles", starring John Partriodge, Adrian Zmed and Marti Webb, is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 18 February 2017.This is one musical not to be missed for so many reasons.