Northampton Press

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Theater Review: Thinking outside 'La Cage' at Pa. Playhouse

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Focus

When the straight world meets the French Riviera world of transvestites and "plain" homosexuals, things get, well, hilariously screwed up. It's so bad that a boy can't even bring his girlfriend home to meet the folks without things getting into an uproar.

"Girdles and jocks" have center stage in "La Cage Aux Folles," through April 13, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Bethlehem.

Brenda McGuire directs this musical depiction of the lives of a mostly all-male revue in a Saint-Tropez nightclub. Nancy Broadbent is music director.

Harvey Fierstein wrote the book. Lyrics and music are by Jerry Herman. "La Cage Aux Folles" is based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret.

Fred Broadbent, as Georges, has a big voice that's superb ("Song on the Sand"). Georges tries to bridge the gap between his "wife," the highly dramatic self-described transvestite Albin (Kerry McGuire), and his straight-laced son Jean-Michel (Jon Lynch).

McGuire is terrific, alternating easily between histrionic transvestite and consummate star of the nightclub circuit. His song, "I Am What I Am," is moving.

Lynch's portrayal of the straight, only child (and person) in this showbiz family is wonderfully self-concerned, preppy and thoroughly mainstream. His "With Anne on My Arm," is charming.

Jean-Michel's girlfriend Anne (Sherry Payton) is sunny common sense as she bridges the gap between her glum and conservative parents and her boyfriend's rainbow family.

Anne's uptight parents, Edouard Dindon (Mickey Brown) and Marie Dindon (Mary-Catherine Bracali), are fine. Dindon, as Anne's politician father, is constantly shocked, just shocked to find out that homosexuals are in the same room with him. Dindon is a more understanding and accepting mother who supports her daughter's choices.

By far the biggest laugh-getter in this fun musical is Jacob (Charles Weigold III) as the "maid-butler." Weigold's mastery of campy expressions and physical comedy is great fun to watch.

Rebecca Knappenberger (Jacqueline, proprietor of Chez Jacqueline) is a standout in a second role as a high kicker in the "Les Cagelles" dance line. She ably joins McGuire in singing "The Best of Times."

"Les Cagelles" chorus line is appropriately provocative with a great can-can. Dara Connelly (Hanna) is a beauty in a bustier.

George Thanhauser III (Phaedra) is athletic in his nod to Egyptian culture.

In a show that couldn't go on without flamboyant wigs, Mary-Catherine Bracali gets high marks for her styles.

Jennifer Dorn is choreographer.

Brenda McGuire, as costume designer, perfectly matches the mixed sexuality of the characters.