Director Sandra Rasmussen cast many performers from 2007’s smash hit THE PRODUCERS and recruited veteran performers including Rima Te Wiata, Paul Barrett and recent Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate George Henare to create a company she describes as "one of the best musical casts in the country."
"People often tell me that the musicals at The Court are as good - or better - than anything they’ve seen overseas, on Broadway and the West End," says Rasmussen. "I think the main factor is the intimacy of the theatre and the quality of the cast - you can see what the characters are thinking and feeling as much as the singing and dancing."
Musical Director Richard Marrett has a high regard for LA CAGE AUX FOLLES’ music. "Jerry Herman (who also composed the scores for Mame and Hello, Dolly!) has an unparalleled gift for melody that shines through in this show" says Marrett. The Court’s production uses a mixture of live and pre-recorded local musicians to match live performance and create the "big sound" essential for production numbers. The result is "the best of both worlds" according to Marrett.
Based on Jean Poiret’s 1973 play, the musical’s debut production in 1983 - staged during "the last great Broadway season", according to theatre historian John Kenrick - overcame strong competition to win six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. A 2004 revival earned LA CAGE AUX FOLLES another two Tonys. One of the show’s songs enjoyed mainstream success when a single of I Am What I Am by Gloria Gaynor became a commercial hit and pride anthem.
"When the musical was released AIDS was a major issue and homosexuality much more marginalised, so LA CAGE was very brave," says Rasmussen. "In a ‘post-Priscilla’ world I want to show the cracks in the make-up - glimpses into darker aspects of the world LA CAGE portrays". The costumes, designed by Elizabeth Whiting and constructed by a team of ten wardrobe staff, promise a visual spectacle rarely seen on stage.
Rasmussen is quick to point out that "beneath the frills and feathers, this is a love story about a relationship that anyone would want to have." In LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, Georges (Paul Barrett) and Albin (George Henare) have lived happily together for years as the proprietors of the titular cabaret club, with Albin performing nightly as Zaza, the star drag act. When Georges' son, Jean-Michel (Jonathan Martin), announces his engagement to Anne (Zara Cormack) - the daughter of a politician and moral crusader who wants to shut down their club - the efforts by Georges to "play it straight" leads to farcical comedy with a message: that "we are what we are and what we are needs no excuses".
With The Court Theatre’s Musicals regularly selling out, The Press Summer Season of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES has an extended 13-week run - with heavy advance sales, patrons are urged to book early. LA CAGE AUX FOLLES plays until Valentine’s Day 2009 - audiences are invited to bring their significant others to enjoy a musical that celebrates love in all its forms.
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES by Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein; based on the play by Jean Poiret
Directed by: Sandra Rasmussen Musical Direction by: Richard Marrett
Venue: The Court Theatre, Christchurch
Production Dates: 22 November 2008 - 14 February 2009
Performances: 6pm Monday / Thursday; 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (no show Sundays).
2pm matinee Saturday 29 November
Tickets: Adults $49, Senior Citizens $41, Tertiary Students $29, School Children $25, Group discount $39
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or www.courttheatre.org.nz