It might be cold in Edinburgh tonight, but La Cage Aux Folles has brought sequins and feathers to the Playhouse to brighten up even the coldest of nights as this feel-good musical embarks on its first ever UK tour.
La Cage Aux Folles follows the story of Albin (John Partridge) and Georges (Adrian Zmed), a couple living happily in the south of France. Albin is the star drag act at La Cage Aux Folles nightclub owned by Georges but behind the stage everything is about to change. Georges’ son Jean-Michael comes home to announce his engagement to the daughter of a right-wing politician who is set on closing down the club. A meeting of the parents leads to Albin and George having to hide their true identity in a hilarious yet moving story.
John Partridge makes his return to the Edinburgh Playhouse following his role as Billy Flynn in Chicago less than a year ago. Tonight, he steps out as Albin commanding the stage with every step he takes as the audience can’t help but fall in love with his charismatic and heart felt performance. It feels like a role that was made for Partridge who steals the show with his note perfect rendition of ‘I Am What I Am’ at the end of the first act.
Some of his finest moments come in the impromptu dialogue with the audience whether its chatting to people in the front row (who I’m sure didn’t think they’d be picked on) or giving the lighting operator a hard time for not following him with the spotlight during a scene, and then deciding to run around the stage to see if the spotlight can catch him.
While the audience does eat out of his hands at times with clapping and cheering happening more frequently that I’ve seen at the theatre lately, there are times when the empty seats really do show with people a little slow to respond at certain points during the show. While there’s no denying the Edinburgh Playhouse is a spectacular theatre, you really do notice it when the audience is obviously less than full.
Adrian Zmed puts in a great performance as the loveable and charming Georges torn between wanting to please his son and do what’s right by Albin, who he fits alongside perfectly in what could easily be musical theatre’s new favourite double act. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a cameo appearance from West End star Marti Webb.
The chorus or Les Cagelles to give them their proper name captivates the audience from the opening number with their glittering costumes and big dance routines. A special mention should also be given to Samson Ajewole whose comic performance as butler/maid Jacob steals more than one scene during the show.
As Albin and Georges come on stage to take their final bow, the audience erupts and everyone is on their feet for a very well deserved standing ovation for what can only be described as an outstanding show.
Review by Sarah Moyes