Review: LA CAGE AUX FOLLES at Trevi Lounge

Extended through September 24 only

By: Sep. 11, 2022
Review: LA CAGE AUX FOLLES at Trevi Lounge
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Feathers, glitter, and bugle beads! It can only mean one thing. La Cage Aux Folles is back, but in an innovative, immersive production by the Fairfield Center Stage in a tiny venue.

Don't worry. The show remains zesty, dazzling, and big-hearted even in the Trevi Lounge's small-scale space. The space, which happens to be a LGBTQ+ safe space gay bar, can adequately accommodate the cast of 19 and bring an intimacy and authenticity to the show that larger theaters just cannot offer.

Bob Filipowich plays Georges, owner of the French Riviera's La Cage Aux Folles drag club which stars his partner, Albin (played by T. Sean Maher) and the Cagelles (played by John Layseca, Paul Lietz, Ryan Romero, Dan Satter, and Christopher Zullo. Albin and Georges' home life get disrupted when their son, Jean-Michel (Will Mandelbaum) shocks them with the announcement that he's getting married to Anne Dindon (Maggie Kruse). It gets worse. Anne is the daughter of Edouard (Steve Benko), a previous French incarnation of Ron DeSantis, and his quiet-as-a-mouse spouse, Marie (Marcy Sansolo). Jean-Michel asks that Albin disappear for a day so as not to threaten his future in-laws' disapproval of the engagement. They compromise and permit Albin to dress in men's clothes and take the name Uncle Al. Jean-Michel invites his biological mother, a former showgirl with whom Georges had a one-night stand, but when she doesn't show up, Albin does, having ditched menswear for a dress and wig. Their clever planning almost works until Albin takes off his wig after singing "The Best of Times." Oops!

Also in the show are Scott Sheldon as Jacob, the butler/maid, Ashley McLeod as the restauranteur Jacqueline, Ricky Mestre as Renaud, Lisa Dahlstrom as Madame Renaud), Tony Boscoe-Schmidt as Francis, and Jim Hisey, Marnie Kruse, and Kelley Wright in the ensemble. Sheldon is fluid and hilarious and almost steals each scene he's in. McLeod is delightful and Boscoe-Schmidt outstanding as the bossy/submissive club's stage manager. The other actors make an impressive mark even in small roles. The performers who play the Cagelles are wonderful and funny. Benko and Sansolo are well-cast as the stuffy politician and his wife, which is not to say that they are stuffy in real life. They just have credibility as a couple. Although the role of Anne is not that big, Maggie Kruse is sparkling, strong, and sympathetic, making it understandable why she's the love of Jean-Michel's life. Mandelbaum has a marvelous singing voice and is very amiable as Jean-Michel. Maher and Filipowich are a perfect on-stage couple, together and individually. You would think they'd been performing together all their lives.

This critic saw La Cage Aux Folles about 30 years ago on Broadway and at Curtain Call about 20 years ago. During this time, gay marriages have become legal, and more people are open about gender and sexuality. Yet Harvey Fierstein's book is not dated because some high-profile politicians are threatening to go back to the Dark Ages. Jerry Herman's music and lyrics are still lovely and lively. Todd Santa Maria's direction is flawless and impressive and, as state earlier, enhances the story by staging it at a small venue. Kudos also to Bobby Henry as stage manager and assistant director, Steven Oliveri for music direction by Steven Oliveri, Emily Frangipane for choreography, and Chris Gensur for sound.

Fairfield Center Stage is the brainchild of Executive Producer Eli Newsom and Artistic Director Christy McIntosh-Newsom, who are known to area theatergoers for their stage productions in Bridgeport and more recently, The SpongeBob Musical, at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. The new theater company is presenting shows in various nearby venues with local performers and crew.

La Cage Aux Folles will play through September 24 at the Trevi Lounge, 548 Kings Highway Cutoff in Fairfield (opposite The Home Depot). There is free parking on site and in neighboring lots. A full bar is available before, during and after the performance. Doors open half an hour before showtime. The running time is two hours and 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Masks are optional. Tickets are $30 for regular reserved (inner lounge, folding chairs), $45 for V.I.P. Lounge Table seating (purchase entire table, includes table service), $25 for Bar Table seating (purchase entire table, no table service), and $15 for discounted partial view Outer Bar seating. A section in the corner of the bar will be open to the public during performances. The show is suitable for kids aged 13 and up, but an adult must accompany minors. For more information about Fairfield Center Stage, visit www.fairfieldcenterstage.org.




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