Running since April 2010 Tony-winner Harvey Fierstein stars as the drag diva Albin in this high-kicking musical comedy about a non-traditional family's struggle to stick together and stay fabulous. Winner of 3 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. Closes May 1st.
The Broadway production of La Cage aux Folles closed May 1, 2011. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
Set in a transvestite club on the French Riviera in the early '70s, "La Cage" features a Tony-winning score (which includes "I Am What I Am" and "The Best of Times") by Jerry Herman and a very funny script by Harvey Fierstein (who is now also starring in the show).
This production began as a small-scale version at the Menier Chocolate Factory, a 180-seat studio space located in (you guessed it) a former chocolate factory in the Southwark section of London. After a 2-month run there, it transferred to London's West End, where it received generally strong reviews and won a Olivier Award as Best Musical Revival. Broadway critics, for the most part, embraced director Terry Johnson’s concept, which is smaller and less glitzy than its predecessors.
Those of you who have never seen a production of "La Cage" on stage may still be familiar with the story. The 1996 American film "The Birdcage" was a remake of the 1978 film "La Cage aux Folles." Both the French film and the Broadway show (which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1984, then had a short-lived Broadway revival in 2004) were based on Jean Poiret's 1973 play "La Cage aux Folles."
Here's a clip from the 2010 Tony Awards featuring the production's original stars Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge (both of whom left the show on Feb. 13th), and with brief cameos by Will Smith and "Glee" star Matthew Morrison:
Hodge is the primary reason this riotously funny and, yes, emotionally affecting revival has returned to Broadway. "La Cage," has been imaginatively reconceived by director Terry Johnson. Grammer has a surprisingly sturdy singing voice and an ingratiating stage manner, just right for the calm - well, relatively calm - voice of reason in the chorus of quirky, high-spirited characters. The supporting cast offers delirious comic support.
Unlike the shrunken revivals of other big Broadway musicals, this one makes sense. Terry Johnson's smart, tight, rough-edged and slightly tacky production gets closer to the sort of scene one might actually find in a transvestite club on the French Riviera. Hodge makes Albin vulnerable and a little pathetic, in addition to being endearingly funny. Grammer is charmless and can't sing, a problem for which I forgive the producers because the rest of the cast is so good.
The show, under the thoughtful direction of Terry Johnson, proves to be surprisingly sturdy. Hodge manages a careful balance, delivering a performance that is both hilarious and heartfelt; his character is admittedly over the top, but he always feels real. Kelsey Grammer proves to be an equal partner in carrying the show. Grammer has a surprisingly strong singing voice, and he never makes you doubt his commitment to Albin or his son. By the end of this well-paced production, it's hard not to concur with the refrain of Albin's second-act number: The best of times is now.
New York Daily News
"La Cage aux Folles" is back on Broadway in a heartfelt and fun revival starring Frasier alum Kelsey Grammer. The human-scale production focuses on the laughs and deeper emotions instead of trying to wow you with extravagance. The toe-tappy score by Herman sounds new, too, thanks to a small band and an emphasis on pathos rather than outsize presentation. Grammer brings warmth, wit and a respectable singing voice. Hodge is simply sensational as Georges' better-spangled half.
New York Post
Grammer's refined, genteel persona would seem like a perfect fit for Georges. But the actor looks more stiff than necessary; his Georges calls Albin "my love" while holding him at an emotional arm's' length. And yet the show entertains. The supporting cast is top-notch. Harvey Fierstein's book, which celebrates nonconformity and generosity, still resonates, while Herman's songs are downright unsinkable.
New York Times
What makes this version work is its insistence on the saving graces of the characters' illusions about themselves and, by extension, the illusions of the production in which they appear. As presented here "La Cage" is a sweet, corny story that asks us to take people (the good-hearted ones, anyway) at their own valuation. Mr. Grammer and Mr. Hodge, play it straight and bent, respectively, in equally disarming ways.
Time Out New York
Terry Johnson's superb revival is tighter and bolder. Somehow this familiar show blows the roof off the Longacre Theatre, and makes a case for "La Cage" as a classic of American musical comedy. The wonderful Douglas Hodge as Albin shines brightly. And he is beautifully partnered with Kelsey Grammer, whose baritone suavity as Georges provides a worthy anchor for Hodge's girly-man buoy. Tuneful, touching, tacky and bedazzling, "La Cage" is what it is. And what it is is a sensation.
Attending a performance of this La Cage is a bit like spending an afternoon with an overactive but thoroughly charming child. Grammer and Hodge, for all their winking gestures, capably illustrate the affection and devotion binding this couple. They're abetted, under Terry Johnson's giddy direction, by a number of entertaining supporting performances. They all seem to be having a swell time, as will you - so long as you can keep up with them.
Why bring back "La Cage aux Folles" only five years after its first Broadway revival? It's funny, heartwarming and terrific. This is a stripped-down, mid-budget production; all those sequins and all that glitz have been toned down, allowing the audience to concentrate more on the tender and simple story at the heart of the piece. That's what we get in this "La Cage," and that's what makes Johnson's production so tenderly affecting.
Wall Street Journal
By stuffing their staging into a shabby-looking set roughly comparable in size to a second-rate nightclub, [the creative team] has clipped away the tinsel and made it possible for the audience to focus on the relationship of Georges and Albin. To be sure, the score is as banal and the jokes as grating as ever, but at least you can believe in what you're seeing, and Messrs. Grammer and Hodge are so engaging that the show's shortcomings recede into the distance. Mr. Grammer needs to work harder at singing in tune, but he knows how to put a song across, while Mr. Hodge's Cockneyfied Albin is so outrageous that you'll want to give him a great big hug.