For a night of laughter, don’t miss Wild Rice’s incarnation of La Cage Aux Folles.
It has played on Broadway numerous times and won 11 Tony Awards, and now it’s being staged for the second time in Singapore – such is the appeal of La Cage Aux Folles, a musical, a film and (originally) a 1973 French play. For decades, the combination of showgirl dancing, glittering costumes, comedic episodes and a storyline that tugs at the heart strings has thrilled audiences.
Ivan Heng leads the cast as Albin, who performs as ZaZa, the lead showgirl at La Cage, a nightclub in – no, not Saint-Tropez … Tanjong Pagar! Sean Ghazi plays his partner George, the nightclub host and manager. In their roles as a gay couple they display a rare chemistry that underpins the entire performance. While it’s hilarious, the musical has a gritty underbelly that contrasts the outlandish theatrics of the transvestite dancers in the nightclub against the realities of an unconventional family attempting to keep up appearances in a city where many still strongly believe in conservative values.
Numerous songs punctuate the dialogue (“I Am What I Am” being among the most famous), giving the leads and minor characters the opportunity to show off their vocal range. La Cage garners plenty of laughs throughout – and the local Singaporean context gives producer Glen Goei more opportunities for humour (there are a lot of “lahs”, of course!). A couple of scenes at the local coffee shop collapse into Singlish and Mandarin (I’m assuming) and even though I couldn’t understand many of the words, the body language and actions were hilarious.
The cabaret performers, known as Les Cagelles, are outstanding in their energetic dance routines, camp banter, fabulous costumes (lots of feathers, sequins and spandex) – and incredible eyelashes! Special mention must also go to Jacob (Hossan Leong), the butler to ZaZa who, while playing a relatively minor role, manages to steal the show on several occasions on account of his unfulfilled, yet outspoken, desire to tread the nightclub boards.
Despite arriving at the theatre without a clue about the storyline, I loved every minute of it. This extravagant production is truly captivating – see it!
Until 13 May (Tuesday to Saturday, 8pm, and two matinees, Saturday and Sunday, 3pm), Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place.
Tickets (from $60 to $120) from Sistic.
By Katie Roberts
Want to read our interview with Ivan Heng?