La Cage aux Folles is being revived on Broadway for the second time this decade. The 2004 revival received mixed notices, but managed to pick up the Tony Award for the Best Revival of a Musical (over Pacific Overtures and Sweet Charity, neither of which offered particularly stiff competition) and ran for 6 months before closing in June 2005.
This time around we’re seeing the much acclaimed Menier Chocolate Factory production, which transferred to the West End. As it did there, the production will star Douglas Hodge as Albin, who will be joined by Kelsey Grammar as Georges after Mandy Patinkin passed over the role in favour of Paradise Found. No complaints in that regard from me. So the buzz is on and here we go with another revival for a show that’s been revived or staged previously in this decade. Except that La Cage aux Folles isn’t half the show that Gypsy is.
Yes, it’s true: I’ve never felt passionately enthusiastic about Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles. I’ve always wanted to like the show – perhaps even felt obligated to, sometimes – and certainly I’m a huge fan of George Hearn’s performance of the show’s big theme tune, “I Am What I Am” from the Tony Awards, which always gets me all sad and teary. (This performance is available on the Broadway’s Lost Treasures DVD series, which any musical theatre fan should have in his or her collection.)
SIDE NOTE: Am I the only one who thinks that the largely unnecessary American remake of La Cage Aux Folles (The Birdcage, which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane) could have been better all around if it had been an adaptation of the stage musical? I guess the late 1990s predated the current movie musical renaissance, but with this cast in place in seems like it would have been an obvious choice at the time. Still, the film received generally favourable reviews and remains one of the top-grossing LGBT films in the USA, so…? Well, it was just a thought.