On Stage

Love is Love

La Cage aux Folles

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Love scenes can be difficult to pull off with finesse, but a memorable moment of tenderness during Bellingham Theatre Guild’s rendition of the musical La Cage aux Folles had me not only reaching for a hankie, but also grinning from ear to ear.

While much of the show is gloriously bawdy, colorful and celebratory—more on that in a minute—the more restrained scene I’m thinking of came when longtime lovers Georges (Brian Francis) and Albin (Jordan Smith) sat on a bench in the French Riviera reminiscing about their 20-year partnership, and the time they first met.

As Georges sang “Song on the Sand” to his paramour, I truly believed the duo’s youthful passion had grown into an everlasting bond, and that these two were in it for the long haul. And when Georges gazed into Albin’s eyes and crooned about still searching for the words to tell him how much he loved him, it was a glorious thing.

In the moment, I wasn’t thinking about the men’s sexuality or the fact that Albin was also a cross-dressing star named Zaza, or that the successful drag nightclub the couple ran in St. Tropez could be construed of as a source of embarrassment to their adult son—who had recently announced his impending marriage to the daughter of a bigoted, right-wing politician, and wanted them to tamp down their personalities to impress his future in-laws. Nope, I was simply happy they’d found each other.

I’m confident co-directors Zoe Bronstein and Kathy Peacock Duncan were hoping audiences would look beyond the song and dance provided within the plot of La Cage aux Folles to discover this, as well.

“The two of us submitted this particular script because we wanted to do something at the Guild that had never been done before,” Bronstein says. “The show’s themes tackle homophobia on a political and personal level, and the struggle between being a good partner and being a good parent. With the current political climate, the show is practically a time capsule and reminder of how far we as a society have come, but also how despairingly far we still must go.”

While that underlying message is vitally important to the plot, there’s a lot more to be experienced within Harvey Fierstein’s masterpiece—namely, the unadulterated joy that can be found in the aforementioned song-and-dance numbers, more costume changes than the Academy Awards, scene-stealing turns by Jared Plang as Jacob (a butler who wants to be a maid), hilarious turns of phrase, an array of delightful drag queens and the idea that, when all is said and done, what’s important about life is finding people who believe in you, want the best for you, and, above all, love you.

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