La Cage aux Folles at Lakewood Theatre Company - Sampling from the Oregonian Review

Theater review: "Lakewood Theatre's La Cage aux Folles delights with sequins and song"

Published: Saturday May 4, 2013, 2:17 PM   

Joe Theissen and Leif Norby in La Cage aux Folles, Lakewood Theatre Company, May 3 - June 9, 2013Pictured: Joe Theissen and Leif Norby in Lakewood Theatre Company's production of La Cage aux Folles, playing May 3 - June 9, 2013 at Lakewood Center for the Arts. Photo by Triumph Photography.


If you like fancy feathers, sequins, false eyelashes and a profusion of gender confusion, don't miss La Cage aux Folles, currently at Lakewood Theatre.

Underneath this delicious show-biz glitterfest lies a love story as simple, old-fashioned and sentimental as you can get. The 1983 Tony award-grabbing musical, based on a French farce by Jean Poiret deals with two middle-aged gay men, George (played by Leif Norby) and the more effeminate Albert (the remarkable Joe Theissen), who have long considered themselves a married couple. They present popular drag entertainment in a racy section of New Orleans, and Albert is the star, great at one-liners and oh so glamorous in drag, performing under the stage name of ZaZa.

When George's son Michael (Sean Powell) returns to the fold and announces he is getting married, the decision throws everyone into a spin. Mainly because he's marrying the daughter of a right-wing, conservative local politician who is a smut snatcher as well. And the family is coming to visit very soon. How do George and Albert hide their relationship, or turn it into something traditional? Do they try to find Michael's real mother, a showgirl he met long ago on the French Riviera, or cut her out of the picture? This coverup lies at the heart of the comedy, and director Greg Tamblyn has fine-tuned the timing when the pace heats up.

Joe Theissen in La Cage aux Folles at Lakewood Theatre Company, May 3 - June 9, 2013The leading actors are strong. Norby's George is, forgive the double entendre, a straight man, a sobering presence next to the more histrionic Theissen. They are a credible duo, and both display strong, sure voices, performing together in such tender numbers as "Song on the Sand" and "With You on My Arm."

But the show is anchored in Theissen's performance. His work seems to compound itself in value each time he's in a new role. Theissen is grounded in his character, making Albert more than a stereotype. He keeps him low-key yet vulnerable, credible yet farcical too. All this is best epitomized in "I Am What I Am," sang defiantly at the end of the first act. Theissen doesn't overdo it with extra fluttering gestures or shrieks. Every movement is carefully placed by the actor, and less becomes more.

The marvelous Kevin Cook (a regular co-host at Darcelle XV Showplace in Old Town) is Claudia, the household's over-the-top maid – or is he the butler?  As the smut snatcher Senator Dindon, Kevin Connell adds a sobering presence that quickly morphs into something garish and hilarious. The chorus, guided by the never-ending talents of choreographer Cherie Price, pick up style and steam as the evening progresses, and they practically levitate off the floor in the finale. The live band, under Alan D. Lytle's direction, is in its usual top form.

- Holly Johnson, Oregonian
 

Read the full review on the OregonLive site.

More details about the show.


La Cage aux Folles:

Kevin Cook, Joe Theissen and Leif Norby in La Cage aux Folles, Lakewood Theatre Company