La Cage Aux Folles, is coming to Chicago at the end of the month for a run from Dec. 20—Jan. 1. I will miss it since I will be in Milwaukee for a much-needed vacation, even though it is one of my favorite musicals.
So how is it that a far-from-perfect musical is one of my favorites? To be fair, very few musicals are perfect and yet some of my favorites have flaws*. So why does La Cage manage to be beloved by many, including myself?
The show has a wonderful score by Jerry Herman. There’s the simultaneously peppy and sad “A Little More Mascara” about Albin’s transformation into Zaza, the beautiful “Song On the Sand,” the amusing “Masculinity,” the rousing numbers “I Am What I Am” and “The Best of Times,” and the thoroughly delightful “La Cage Aux Folles.”
But the interesting aspect about La Cage Aux Folles is that it was written in the 1980s and portrays a homosexual relationship as normal, particularly one where a child is raised. While it still has a standard stereotypical gay relationship—Georges is masculine while Albin is a screaming queen—the main characters are really no different from a heterosexual relationship.
The reason why La Cage Aux Folles always seems to survive is because it is in many ways a tradition musical with classic sounding numbers. Is it the greatest musical ever? No, especially since the son seem despicable with his treatment of Albin, but it’s ultimately a fun musical with a great score. This is a world where the titular place is where people meet their boyfriend, mistress and wife, where a duchess can get pregnant at a bar and one can sip their Dubonnet in the nude. It is a place many of us couldn’t imagine. The score and a decent production is fun and provides an escape for the evening.
Assuming the tour is as delightful as the Original Cast Recording always proves to be, then seeing the tour when it comes to Chicago might be a good idea. It runs from Dec. 20-Jan. 1 at the Bank of America Theatre and is sadly not coming to Milwaukee anytime soon.
*Seriously, William Finn, the lyric “People might think I’m very dykish” is simultaneously the most awesome and awkward lyric ever.