by Lorie Lewis Ham
La Cage aux Folles opened this past weekend presented by StageWorks Fresno, and I believe that this is the Fresno premiere of this show. This is a show that I have always wanted to see so I was very excited. As always, StageWorks Fresno did not disappoint!
If you have seen the movie The Birdcage, you know the basic plot of the musical, but in case you don’t know the story, here is a bit about it. It is set in a nightclub where the entertainers are in drag and the main characters live in an apartment upstairs. The nightclub manager is Georges (Terry Lewis) and the star performer is his partner Albin (Joel Abels), or as Albin is known on stage, Zaza. Georges son Jean-Michel (Ryan Torres) comes home with happy news that might not be so happy for Albin and Georges. Jean-Michel is engaged and his fiancée’s parents want to meet his parents. The problem is that they are not only ultra conservative, but her father is head of a party whose stated goal is to close the local drag clubs. Jean-Michel asks Georges to make their home more “normal” and wants his birth mother to be there and not Albin because of how flamboyant he is. This causes a lot of problems between Albin and Georges as Georges wants to please his son, but does not want to hurt Albin. The story is sweet, heartbreaking at times, far more relevant right now than it should be, and hilarious. Georges and Albin’s relationship is so beautiful, and is the heart of this musical.
Everyone in this show does such a wonderful job! The other performers at the club, the Les Cagelles, are hilarious and delightful. As Georges and Albin’s “maid” Jacob, Jared Serpa is so funny that he has you laughing with just the simplest movement or comment. Joel Abels as Albin is absolutely perfect–from his wonderful performances as Zaza, to his overdramatic tantrums with Georges, to the sweetness of his love for both Georges and Jean-Michel. Terry is great as Georges, and his singing as always was wonderful. It was so nice to once again see Ryan Torres on stage—he is a very talented young man with a beautiful voice. One of my favorite songs was “Look Over There” which Terry and Ryan sang together for the reprise. I also loved Albin’s song “I Am What I Am,” and “The Best of Times” made you want to sing along.
Costumes, sets, everything was great! The music was fun, and at times inspiring and beautiful. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a long time. You can always count on StageWorks to put on an amazing and fun show, as well as one that makes you think and feel. The icing on the cake was the live orchestra.
Major kudos to directors J. Daniel Herring and Josh Montgomery for putting all the pieces together so beautifully and to this incredible cast and crew! I know I have said this before, but who needs to go to New York to see a show when there is so much amazing talent right here!
La Cage aux Folles is on stage at the Dan Pessano Theater, 2770 E International Ave, Fresno, CA, until August 11. Tickets can be purchased online. Get your tickets ASAP as they are going quickly. You won’t want to miss this!
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can check the podcast out on iTunes/Apple Podcasts and Google Play, and also on podbean