Directed by Out Front founder and producing director Paul Conroy, choreographed by Jordan Keyon Moncrief, and costumed to a fare-thee-well by designer Jay Reynolds, “La Cage” is a giddy bonbon with an enduring message about the necessity of being true to yourself and the elastic nature of family.
The home that Georges (Tony Hayes) and Albin make for Jean-Michel is surely as legit as the one created by one Edouard Dindon (Robert Wayne), the ultra-conservative leader of the Tradition, Family and Morality Party, and his rather daffy wife, Marie (Marcie Millard). The dowdy Dindons happen to be the parents of Jean-Michel’s intended, Anne (Melanie Sheahan). The Dindons seem to step in from another age — or comic book. They are textbook villains in a good-versus-evil fairy tale, where the boy, after some distress, eventually gets the girl.
As cute as this show can be, it is not flawless, and it does drag on.
From time to time, it can be hard to hear an actor (Hayes, for instance) speak over the stage hustle-and-bustle, the singing and dancing, the music, the orchestra. And when the company is hoofing and strutting, you may have the feeling you’re watching a community-theater production, rather than a professional one. Or is that intentional? This is a rag-tag group of men in high-heels and flamboyant outfits, performing at a louche French night club. You were expecting the Radio City Rockettes?
While some of the performances can be on the flimsy side, Clark-Duke is hysterical as Albin, a drama queen extraordinaire, reminiscent of Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, and Bette Davis in their scenery-chewing prime. And Arnotti seems to have fluttered (or should I say “lurched”?) in from a Shakespeare farce. He’s a terrific, utterly uncontainable physical comedian. Vallea E. Woodbury, as the owner of the posh restaurant where the shoe finally drops, is wonderful, too. Ces soirées-là! (Oh, what a night!)
Putting on a show of this scale (16 actors, eight musicians, four designers) is not a small or inexpensive task. Yet Out Front pulls it off, presenting a grand-scale spectacle on a small stage, with sass, tenderness and a bit of meaningful social commentary. As “the first Broadway musical ever to give center stage to a homosexual love affair” (according to the New York Times’ Frank Rich in his review), “La Cage” was ahead of the times. At long last, it has metamorphosed into the beautiful bird it was meant to be.
“La Cage aux Folles”
8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. 3 p.m. Sundays. Through Nov. 9. Also, 8 p.m. Nov. 4. $15-$25. Out Front Theatre, 999 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. 404-448-2755, outfronttheatre.com.
Bottom line: It's a hoot