La Cage aux Folles, Musical by J. Herman
The plot of La Cage aux Folles has been made famous through numerous adaptations, most prominently the delightful Hollywood version entitled The Birdcage, starring Nathan Lane and the late Robin Williams. Before it turned into movie magic, however, it was a massively successful musical by Jerry Herman. It had its try-out in Boston in 1983 and moved to Broadway the same year. The original production exceeded 1,760 performances over a period of four years, and it bagged six Tony Awards. La Cage aux Folles, performed in German, is now triumphantly coming to Volksoper Wien in Vienna.
The plot of La Cage aux Folles stems from the original play by Jean Poiret from 1973. It centres on Georges, owner of a chic night club in St Tropez, and Albin, the club’s male prima donna under the stage name Zaza. The two men enjoy a lavish and happy time together, but their life of endless parties and glamour is about to be disturbed. Georges’ son from an old affair comes to visit with his fiancée, who happens to be the daughter of an ultra-conservative local politician. The nightclub owner, his over-the-top partners, and their motley crew of exotic performers must try their best not to sabotage the future matrimony. But how far can you go hiding who you really are – and should you even try?
Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles delivers its life-affirming, pro-love and pro-gay messaging in a sweet and entertaining manner that sweeps audiences up. It does not engage in polemics and does not chastise conservatives; rather, it makes them tap their feet and clap their hands. The score lets the flamboyant Zaza deliver most of the showstopping tunes, while Georges’ character rounds off the couple nicely with his subtlety and subdued charm. Their stage chemistry will become apparent at Volksoper Wien, and it will reiterate the musical comedy central lesson: love is love, and we should celebrate it with song and dance, no matter what.