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Skylight Stages Splashy, Glittering ‘La Cage aux Folles’

Top cast features Norman Moses and Ray Jivoff

Nov. 22, 2016
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Photo by Mark Frohna

Skylight Music Theatre’s holiday show features plenty of glamour, glitter and bright-colored baubles, but the theme is a far cry from the jolly fellow who comes down the chimney on Christmas day. Instead, Skylight offers a gift-wrapped production of La Cage aux Folles, the splashy Tony Award-winning musical.

The show features two of Milwaukee’s favorite actors: Norman Moses as Georges, the suave, genial owner and MC of a drag nightclub, and comedian Ray Jivoff as his partner, Albin, the French nightclub’s star attraction. Jivoff’s onstage presence is the stunning “Zaza.” 

Both men execute their roles superbly, surrounded by a top-notch cast that includes a parade of lovelies known as the Cagelles. The Cagelles are the nightclub’s chorus, and a harder-working group of actors one could scarcely imagine. These half-dozen men are performers who can hold their own against any real-life drag stars. When it’s “show time” at the nightclub, the Cagelles appear in dozens of peacock-plumed costumes designed by “Project Runway” contestant and costume designer Chris March. It would be difficult to pick a favorite among the show’s bird-themed costumes. However, one not-to-be-missed outfit pays homage to Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds

But it’s not glitz that won 11 Tony Awards. Instead, it’s the show’s insistence that one look beneath the outward affectations to see the two-decade devotion between Georges and Albin. Not only are they partners to each other, they also have been excellent parents to Georges’ grown son, Jean-Michel.

The son, a product of George’s youthful flirtation with a gorgeous showgirl, was raised by Georges and Albin. Director John de los Santos’ sensitive staging demonstrates the emotional depth of betrayal felt by Albin when he’s at first shoved offstage at the arrival of Jean-Michel’s future in-laws. The homophobic father-in-law is feared to condemn the union of his daughter with someone raised by two men.

The father-in-law is played by a wonderfully dry Dylan Bolin; his wife (Carol Greif) is gleefully “freed” from her own cage as the dutiful spouse. Moses and Jivoff display genuine tenderness between each other in songs such as “With You On My Arm” and “Song on the Sand.” 

Through Dec. 23 at the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre, 158 N. Broadway. For tickets call 414-291-7800 or visit skylightmusictheatre.org.

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