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‘La Cage aux Folles’ delights with deft balance

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One important reason why the Albuquerque Little Theatre’s current production of “La Cage aux Folles” is successful is in carefully balancing the musical comedy’s two dominant elements.

It has balanced the telling of the tender love story of the gay couple Georges and Albin with the showing of the music, comedy and dancing of the troupe of feral showgirls known as Les Cagelles.

Les Cagelles cannot overshadow the central love story and that love story must give the troupe the space and the time to do its thing.

If you go
WHAT: “La Cage aux Folles”
WHEN: 2 p.m. today. Repeats 8 p.m. Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 and 2 p.m. March 10, March 14-17 and March 22-24
WHERE: Albuquerque Little Theatre, 224 San Pasquale SW
HOW MUCH: $24 general public, $21 seniors, $18 students with valid ID, $12 for those 12 and under in advance at the ALT box office, by visiting www.albuquerquelittletheatre.org or by calling ALT at 242-4750 ext 2

The success of that balance was visible in Friday’s opening-night performance and it made the production one of ALT’s most memorable presentations. The cast earned the standing ovation it received.

The strength of Georges and Albin’s love is tested when complications develop by way of a secondary romance. Georges’ son Jean-Michel announces his impending marriage to Anne, whose father’s political party wants to shutter drag clubs. Albin’s full-time job happens to be as the drag queen Zaza in the shows at the nightclub below their apartment in Saint Tropez, France. Georges is the emcee.

Jean-Michel has invited Anne and her parents over for dinner but he wants to cover up Georges and Albin’s homosexual relationship. Quick, humorous plot twists ensue but they of course bring the story to a satisfying denouement.

As Georges, Ron Bronitsky capably carries the storyline forward through dialogue and song. No easy task. Dean Eldon Squibb is witty, vulnerable and sympathetic as Albin.

The six-member chorus line of Les Cagelles that back up Zaza, is hot and hilarious, especially in the can-can number. They are led by the athletic, magnetic Jonté Culpepper. Larry Joseph Aguilar’s creative choreography combined with some wild costume designs and Joshua Bien’s lighting design turned the ALT stage into a nightclub dance floor.

Joe Moncada and Carolyn Hogan shared costume design duties. Moncada also made his presence known on stage as the sashaying, outlandishly costumed “maid” in the Georges-Albin household. One costume was Moncada’s half-maid, half-butler outfit; another was his Louis XIV period dress.

The off-stage band injected plenty of energy to the Henry Avery-directed show, especially in the dance numbers.

ALT must solve miking problems. There were moments when the lyrics in ensemble singing lacked clarity and a critical moment near the conclusion when Bronitsky’s singing was inaudible.
— This article appeared on page F3 of the Albuquerque Journal

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