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Amateur Night at La Cage

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devonian.t
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joined:7/26/04
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Amateur Night at La Cage#1
Posted: 4/10/09 at 8:11am
OK, so I know I should have taken Mama's advice, but foolishly I went ahead and saw La Cage with Graham Norton....

First, the production- well, as we know, I'm ancient enough to remember the glorious Palladium production, but it is redundant to compare the two, and I was quite happy to watch the show with an unbiased attitude. Generally I found the design to be functional, even atmospheric at times, but there were some short-cuts which cheapened the overall effect. The lack of a clean entrance upstage centre meant that there were several ridiculour moments where characters exited usc, only to be seen wandering across the cyc- that's just tacky and only needed decent masking.

Similarly, a couple of the flats- the gun turret and the windmill in particular, did not work clearly enough as "nightclub scenery" for me. The club drape fabric was just a little too cheap as well, bearing in mind the exquisite taste the owners of such a club would certainly display. Overall, though, the physical production was fine.

The choreography was a little disappointing at times- sure we're unlucky to see again the divine 4-costume-changing likes of the opening routine of the original. However, there were too many times when the tempo and pace of a routine would sag. The only time things really took off was in the can-can section of La Cage aux Folles. However, it was all pretty tidy, (though I just hated the opening shadow work- it just needs to be more ambi-sexstrous in terms of the shadows thrown for it to be really striking).

As for Les Cagelles? Well, it would have to be a pretty dark alley to mistake any of these individuals for ladies! The legs of 3 or 4 looked as though they belonged on rugby players! And a bare midrif and a six-pack for Hannah? Really? Some of the interplay could have been bitchier and why did they not whip off their wigs? it helps to contextualize Albin's mistake when they all do it as a habit at the end of a number.

Now, as for Albin...

Graham Norton is a very likeable fellow and friends tell me he is a hoot offstage. However, he spent the whole of act 1 like a rabbit with false lashes in a headlight. I didn't expect a great voice, but I did expect him to land the comedy: nope. Even great gags like the "snakes mate male and female..." were mis-timed. The second act was better, but generally there was little characterisation and he came across most of the time as "Graham Norton trying gamely". But that's not good enough. And then there was the singing... In the programme he thanks Mary Hammond; if I were her I'd be getting that taken out as quickly as possible! He couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. 'I am what I am' was an utter travesty, (and the bloccking that followed afterwards with George flailing around was just stupid). I have to eat my words- I said I thought he would put his on mark on the role put that he would be good in his own way. Wrong. Simply not up to the role, it pains me to say, because I wanted to enjoy his performance.

As for Steven Pacey as George- just not right for the part. Have him as an upper class English twit and he's fine. Here, he was so out of his depth. And what was going on with the accents? Where exactly were they all and why were Jacob and the (criminally under-used) Jacqueline the only ones with a French accent?

So, overall, the show itself still held up well, (I never particularly liked 'With Ann on my Arm' but that's personal taste), and the book is funny as hell, but if you want to see this production, wait till it has some real actors in it- I can imagine Quast and Allam taking it to a whole other level!



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MamasDoin'Fine
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#2
Posted: 4/10/09 at 8:24am
I saw the thread title and the author and I knew what I was going to read!

You must return later to see them then when they open even if its to just get that nasty taste from your mouth.
Hope the rest of your weekend line up is a little better.
x
Updated On: 4/10/09 at 08:24 AM
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devonian.t
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#2
Posted: 4/10/09 at 8:34am
I knew you'd know! Thanks for not saying "I told you so"!
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MamasDoin'Fine
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#3
Posted: 4/10/09 at 8:39am
...but i did!

I'm all for people going and having the experience themselves but you really chose a bad one this time. I hope the entire production was to a level where you will try and see the next cast.
I will be there as as you said they will take it straight to another level.
Are Entertaining Mr Sloane this weekend too?
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devonian.t
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#4
Posted: 4/10/09 at 8:41am
Yes, I will go back for sure- Roger Allam will bring so much to the role.

I must admit I thought the final tableau finished the show nicely, (though apart from that there wasn't the faintest hint of chemistry on stage).

Missing this Mr Sloane- it's not my favourite Orton and I'm not fond of the venue or all of the casting, so I'm avoiding. Going for something more arty next! (War Horse next week though!)
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MamasDoin'Fine
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#5
Posted: 4/10/09 at 8:50am
You will adore War Horse, take tissues.
Maybe going 2mrw night.
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#6
Posted: 4/10/09 at 12:14pm
"The lack of a clean entrance upstage centre meant that there were several ridiculour moments where characters exited usc, only to be seen wandering across the cyc- that's just tacky and only needed decent masking."

That's what I thought as well. Slightly spoiled Tracie Bennett's otherwise brilliant final exit.

I loved this production when I saw it with Hodge and Lawson, but it worked mostly because of the quality of the acting - if Albin and Georges aren't up to standard I can easily imagine it would be a disaster. I'm booked to see it shortly after Allam and Quast start. Also hoping to see the principal Jean-Michel and Jacob this time, as I wasn't all that impressed by their understudies last time I went.
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#7
Posted: 4/10/09 at 2:21pm
Thanks for the review Dev, it helps confirm my decision to wait for the cast change.

I thought the thread title meant that members of the audience were being invited to take part!
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devonian.t
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#8
Posted: 4/10/09 at 2:41pm
I'm sure 50% of them could have done a better job!
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#9
Posted: 4/12/09 at 7:09am
Hmmm, as I expected.
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Patash
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#10
Posted: 4/12/09 at 7:56am
What a lovely and accurately detailed report (at least I assume it is accurate). I love the specifics and they are so much more meaningful than the usual vague "the sets were poorly done" or "the actor just wasn't good" or "I didn't like the chorus".
Can't wait for my week long trip in May and being able to see the "upgraded" casting.
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devonian.t
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#11
Posted: 4/12/09 at 3:14pm
That's very kind of you Patash
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re: Amateur Night at La Cage#12
Posted: 4/12/09 at 5:18pm
I am going again this week. (for a second time with GN, but this is a free ticket so I couldn't resist)I enjoyed Graham's performance last time and it is going to be good to see if he has developed in the role at all. And if he hasnt the rest of the show will make up for itre: Amateur Night at La Cage