If You Love Sequins and Boas, La Cage Aux Folles Is For You

Shopping isn’t the only reason we wish we were New Yorkers. Another of our passions is musical theater, which there is no shortage of in the Big Apple. Luckily for us (and maybe little-known fact for most), the Twin Cities has more theater seats per capita than anywhere outside of NY. Hooray!

Tuesday night marked the start of the Hennepin Theatre District’s 2011-2012 Broadway season. So imagine our excitement when lovesthat was selected as one of the exclusive bloggers for opening night of La Cage Aux Folles at the State Theatre (we’ll give you a dollar if you can pronounce that without looking it up. But not really).

La Cage Aux Folles (French for “cage of madwomen”) began as a French play in 1973 and originally made its Broadway debut in 1983. The show tells the story of nightclub owner Georges and his temperamental “starlet” / long-term partner, Albin (aka Zaza). They are nagging, loving and know all-too-well how to push each other’s buttons – typical couple, right? The plot thickens when their son falls in love (with a woman, to their surprise) whose future in-laws are ultra-conservative. It’s a caring story about family relationships, no matter what form that may take.

La Cage received instant attention and was soon nominated for a range of accolades,  including nine Tony Awards and winning six counting Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Since then, the show has seen several revival productions, including London’s famous West End and other international runs. The 2010 Broadway edition won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, spawning the 2011 National Tour starring George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber (again, lucky us!). And not that we’re biased or anything, but did we mention that Sieber is a fellow Minnesotan?

If you’re looking for a little taste of the show, take a peek at this teaser from the Broadway production starring Kelsey Grammer:

Love it yet? Well, here are some things to know before you go:

1. There’s a little audience participation before the show starts where someone in the cast comes out and asks if people are celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, etc. If you don’t feel like getting roasted (hilariously), it’s best to keep mum.

2. This is probably not a show to take your extremely conservative grandmother to. You may want to wait for Les Misérables or The Lion King for that.

3. If you love how faaaabulously gay Cam is on ABC’s Modern Family, this is going to be your kind of show. Be prepared to be jealous of men who:

  • Can walk and dance in heels better than the average woman
  • Have amazing legs
  • Are crazy flexible (they do the splits more times in one show than we’ll do in our lifetime)

4. If you like to live the saying “when in Rome,” wear that sequin number that you only intended to sport on New Years Eve. This is the only time we’ll say, the more risqué – the better.

5. We’ve heard some criticism that George Hamilton isn’t the best singer, which is not entirely untrue. That said, he brings star power to the stage and certainly has his still-sharp acting chops (and does little singing). Christopher Sieber and the rest of the cast are the vocal powerhouses throughout the show and they don’t disappoint.

Overall we found the show thoroughly enjoyable. You’ll definitely laugh, but there’s also an emotional depth to La Cage that we didn’t anticipate (we’ve never seen The Birdcage, the movie adaptation starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams). Although the show originated in the 70s, the subject matter remains a poignant reminder that even today not everyone is accepted for who they are.

La Cage Aux Folles sends the beautiful message that one of the bravest things you can do is to simply be yourself. This is summed up in our favorite number, I Am What I Am. We couldn’t say it any better if we wanted to.

I am what I am,
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity.
I bang my own drum,
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty.

And voilà, now that you’re prepped get out there and see the show for yourself. La Cage Aux Folles is playing now through October 23rd at the State Theatre. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Photo from the Hennepin Theatre Trust Facebook fan page

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