La Cage aux Folles

Rated 4.0 Georges, the flamboyant emcee in La Cage aux Folles, welcomes the audience by exclaiming, “I see so many old friends and new faces.” It’s a very appropriate opening line for Runaway Stage’s production of this family-values musical.Runaway Stage’s usual lineup is Broadway standards such as Oklahoma and Annie Get Your Gun, so it’s curious to see the company tackle a more adult-content show. But true to Georges’ observations, the audience at a recent La Cage production was made up of old friends and new faces—a refreshing blend of season subscribers, seniors, families, teens, Lavender Heights residents and other theater lovers.

And what the audience got was one of the best shows the theater has produced—with leads who possess talent, stage presence and real chemistry; and a supporting cast with equal enthusiasm and charm.

This is an old-fashioned love story with a twist. Georges (Craig Howard) and longtime partner Albin (Bob Roe) operate a high-class drag show in St. Tropez, where every evening, Albin transforms himself into the ultimate diva, ZaZa. The laughs come from Albin’s high-maintenance fits, the antics of drama queen/butler Jacob (Robert Webber), and Georges’ attempts to soothe the not-so-savage beasts.

But it’s the sentiments that make this show special. When Georges and Albin’s son Jean-Michel (Laurent Lazard) announces he’s getting married to the daughter of a homophobe moralist and wants to invent straight parents, everyone grapples with the issues of what really constitutes a family and what unconditional love is.

Howard and Webber are wonderful, but it’s Roe’s multi-layered performance that steals the show. Viva la diva!