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THEATER REVIEW 'La Cage' brings glitz, wit to stage



Published: Fri, July 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The musical is a gender-bending romp.

By AMANDA SMITH

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown Playhouse's production of "La Cage Aux Folles" opened with glitz, gaudy glamour and dancing drag queens.

Based on a French film by Jean Poiret, "La Cage" is set in the transvestite club district of St. Tropez. The play tells the story of Georges and Albin, a happy homosexual couple in show biz. Georges runs the club, Albin starts as the premiere drag queen.

The two have an idyllic life, until a nasty twist of fate brings their gilded world to a halt: Jean-Michel, the couple's son, is about to be married to the daughter of a local crusading moralist, Monsieur Dindon, who vows to clean up all moral transgressions in St. Tropez. Dindon wants to meet and approve of Jean-Michel's parents before consenting to hand over his precious Anne. Problem is, Jean-Michel's mother cannot be found.

The effeminate Albin is only too happy to step in as "Mother" and lead the families on a wild round of gender-bending.

The opening scene is brilliant, full of sequined costumes and a stage full of glittering heels. Give the Cagelles a second look though; only about half of the lovely ladies on stage are actually female.

Lighter side of love: After the Cagelles are de-wigged, the real fun begins. The cast, led by John Scharsu, starring as Georges, and Alan McCreary as Albin, take their audience on a fun-filled romp through the lighter side of relationships and love.

Matthew White's stunning vocals as Jean-Michel, Georges' son, are a focal point of the production. Enjoy the Dana School of Music student's voice while you can; he sings very little in the production.

Beneath the glitz and the glamour of "La Cage's" fabulous world, the play deals with some very serious emotions in a lighthearted way. Albin, playing the part of a flamboyant homosexual, demands acceptance in the song "I Am What I Am."

Anti-gay movement: Homophobia rears its head in the form of Monsieur Dindon (played by Victor D. Garcia). He leads the local anti-gay-nightclub league.

Though the supporting cast is sometimes a little flat, the show is carried by the stars and their strong vocal performances.

The play takes gender-bending to the extreme, and will leave the audience wondering, Will poor little Jean-Michel and Anne triumph in their love affair? Or will the strait-laced crusader win in the end?

With some truly clever lines and despite some contrived French accents, the musical asserted that, after all, is it what it is -- a lighthearted look at homosexual relationships and gender-bending.




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