When I went: Autumn 2009
Location: Playhouse Theatre, London
Performers: John Barrowman (Albin), Simon Burke (Georges)
Creative team: Terry Johnson (director), Jerry Herman (music and lyrics), Harvey Fierstein (book)
Approximate price: £60
Special points: Themes of self-belief, acceptance
Best bit: I Am What I Am
If I could change one thing: More killer songs
La Cage aux Folles, based on a 1970s French play, was the subject of a film adaptation starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams, but has also enjoyed success as a musical theatre production in its own right, as well as Tony Awards. Unfortunately, while the book is strong and witty all the way through, the musical numbers definitely take a second half dip.
John Barrowman was very strong as Albin, to the point where you missed him when he was offstage. Simon Burke provided a great counterpoint as Georges and their chemistry was palpable. The highlight was I Am What I Am, after which John Barrowman burst out of the stage door, in drag, onto the street – I imagine anyone hanging around there at that moment got a bit of a surprise.
The performance got across the themes of prejudice and self-acceptance fairly well, without exaggerated flamboyance and with plenty of adult jokes. It wasn’t a stunning performance but this was partially due to the overall lack of strong musical numbers.