John Partridge – Albin
Adrian Zmed – Georges
Marti Webb – Jaqueline
Dougie Carter – Jean-Michele
Alexandra Robinson – Anne
Samson Ajewole – Jacob
Venue: Sunderland Empire
Date: Tuesday 1st August 2017
Believe it or not this is the first time La Cage Aux Folles has embarked on a UK Tour, it was attempted a few years back but ended up being cancelled due to the low ticket sales. I had previously seen it in the West End had tickets for that attempt, so pleased it has eventually made it so more people can experience the magic awaiting you at La Cage Aux Folles.
Even better when John Partridge was announced in the leading role and looks unrecognisable in his drag for Zaza. Amazing going from Billy Flynn in Chicago to this, he was outstanding from start to finish, I was blown away by the incredible levels and depth of his performance.
The story ends up to be a rather complicated affair and that involves some slapstick hilarious moments mixed in with heartfelt songs and moments where you aren’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Very impressive to be able to go through so many emotions when watching a show, but most importantly you will feel happy and honoured to experience it all.
We are what we are opens the show and it has everyone in the audience questioning whether they are all male performers or not, no matter how many times you tell yourself they are male the dancing, movements and incredible figures really make you just wonder. I actually left feeling extremely jealous that these men can do a lot more than I can in heels!
Zaza aka Albin has been with Georges for twenty years, helped raise his son Jean-Michele as he work as a drag queen and pretty much thinks he is a woman. When Jean-Michele returns home one day to announce to his father he is engaged to be married everything is thrown into uproar when he does not want Albin around to meet Anne’s parents. This causes a lot of problems for Georges and really tests the relationship. The main reason behind it is that Anne’s father just happens to be campaigning against homosexuals and transvestite’s, including getting La Cage Aux Folles closed down.
The musical numbers compliment the story and it is all about ‘I Am What I Am’ which Partridge totally nailed well and truly, you feel the lump in your throat and tears building up in your eyes as Albin must deal with the son he raised not wanting him around for a couple of days. It’s an amazing close to the first act and really does make you feel so sorry for him, why can’t he be who he wants to be? Provokes a lot of thoughts about that as a general topic as well, people living how they want to.
The chemistry between Partridge and Zmed is just brilliant, they compliment each other in all the ways you need between Albin and Georges. The timing and love of it all is just perfect. I think the fact both actors are outstanding really gives the show that extra edge, they are engaging you want them to succeed, the acting performances are brilliant with the very impressive vocals to back it all up. I also have to mention Dougie Carter who I thought was brilliant as Jean-Michele a truly incredible talent with an amazing voice I loved his rendition of ‘With Anne on My Arm’ it was just a great musical theatre moment.
‘The Best of Times’ is such an engaging song as well, the eleven clock number of the show and it really is impressive with Marti Webb given more of a chance to show off her amazing voice, so powerful. I also have to mention again just how amazing John Partridge was in the role, honestly I want to see him in this again! Especially with Adrian Zmed on his arm, oh yes I went there and linked it to one of the songs. Zmed = outstanding!
Not many dates are left on the tour but hopefully they will get a West End transfer as I really do just love this show. It makes you happy and you leave the theatre smiling as well as humming the songs.
Well done to everyone for such a fine and impressive production, the costumes were something else as well!