After the lengthy run of its initial Broadway production, songwriter Jerry Herman and librettist Harvey Fierstein's musical adaptation of the gay French farce La Cage aux Folles had a New York revival in 2004 that did not succeed and was not immortalized on a cast album. But in the early years of the 21st century, Broadway developed a new formula for musical revivals that went something like this: let a venerable American show be mounted in a stripped-down form by a small, off-the-West-End theater in London like the one called the Menier Chocolate Factory; then, import that production to New York while partially recasting it with a well-known television or movie star in one of the lead roles. This formula was followed rigorously with the second Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles, which opened on April 18, 2010. British actor/singer Douglas Hodge was allowed to repeat his performance as Albin/Zaza, the female impersonator, while the part of his more butch life partner Georges was given to American TV star Kelsey Grammer. In the case of La Cage, such stunt casting has a certain validity, since the part was originally played by another TV actor, Gene Barry, and it was written for a non-singer who can just about carry a tune. That certainly describes Grammer, who makes the most of the growl in his speaking voice, but strains to hit the higher notes in songs like "Look Over There." The revival really belongs to Hodge (who won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance), but his distinctly British approach to his character is in a campy, cross-dressing tradition that recalls Benny Hill, Dame Edna, and even (in bits here and there) Tim Curry's Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Show. Still, even scaled down, La Cage circa 2010 remains a tuneful romp that plays in an era when acceptance of homosexuality is much more on the rise than it was in 1983.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|La Cage aux Folles|