Tag Archives: John Partridge

REVIEW: La Cage aux Folles – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

The much-loved La Cage aux Folles has had a long history: from Jean Poiret’s original 1973 play, then the 1978 French/Italian movie production, it became a stage musical in 1983 before becoming the English language film The Birdcage in 1996. It’s surprising to learn that despite numerous Broadway and West End revivals this is the first professional UK tour.

IMG_7159

 

Georges (Adrian Zmed) and Albin (John Partridge) run the most glamorous nightclub in St. Tropez, where Albin stars as the glamorous drag artist Zaza. When Georges’ son Jean-Michel (Dougie Carter) announces his plans to marry the daughter of a straight-laced homophobic politician set on closing the nightclub, mayhem ensues.

IMG_7157

It’s astonishing to think that this show is nearly 45 years old and even more astonishing to think how long it has taken for attitudes to change. This story of tolerance and acceptance is wrapped up in a blinding amount of sequins and feathers, and yes, it is awash with every camp cliché, but thankfully, Tony Award-winning Harvey Fierstein’s adaptation does justice to both the original subject matter and the message it conveys. It may sound glib to say it, but La Cage aux Folles is truly heart-warming, and the oohs, aaaahs, whistles and boos it elicits from its audience and the absolute warmth with which the whole production is received is enough to melt the most frozen of hearts.

IMG_7156

Gary McCann’s design reads well in the auditorium, the full-on glamour of the club contrasting well with the faded glamour of Georges and Albin’s apartment and the costumes are universally on-point.

IMG_7155

Partridge is an oustanding Albin/Zaza, it is a role tailor-made to showcase his acting, dancing and singing skills and US TV favourite Adrian Zmed is a fine Georges, there’s a deftness of touch in his portrayal of a character that could easily have been rendered a caricature, he is also in possession of a fine singing voice. Dougie Carter as son Jean-Michel is also a stand-out, a fine actor, his classic, musical-theatre tenor voice is a joy. Unusually, and wonderfully, there isn’t a single weak-link in the entire production.

IMG_7158

This is a production that will put a spring in the step and a song in the heart of even the most jaded theatre-goer. In a theatre scene brimful of repeated revivals and lacklustre works, this is a breath of fresh air – a genuine must-see.

Runs at Glasgow, King’s Theatre until Saturday 29 July 2017

All images: Pamela Raith

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Chicago – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Inspired by the sensational crime stories she covered during the Prohibition Era for the Chicago Tribune, and in particular the trials of two real-life Jazz Babies accused of murdering their lovers: the much-married cabaret chanteuse Belva Gaertner (the inspiration for Velma Kelly) and Beulah Annan (Roxie Hart), Maurine Dallas Watkins wrote the 1926 play Chicago. Spawning a 1927 silent movie; a 1942 romantic comedy Roxie Hart; the 1975, Bob Fosse adapted stage musical and it’s record-breaking 1996 revivals in the West End and Broadway; and an Oscar-winning 2002 film. Little did she know that her gloriously acerbic observations would still have a life 90 years on. Its depressingly resonant critique of celebrity and the media, and its message that truth and justice don’t always prevail when you can get away with murder if you can simply “razzle-dazzle ’em”, is still a winner with audiences today.

David Ian and Michael Watt’s production is pared back and stripped to its bones. The 11-piece band is, as ever onstage throughout and the only decoration a smattering of chairs. The coal black costumes by William Ivey Long, from the 1996 revival are here but in need a refresh, looking a little dated. However, Ann Reinking’s adaptation of Bob Fosse’s original choreography is still pin-sharp and the jazz hands are still much in evidence, the ensemble’s execution is glorious, but the cramped staging, largely caused by the enormous box structure the band inhabits, inhibits the overall effect.

With such a minimalistic staging it’s down to the quality of the cast to carry the piece. Sophie Carmen-Jones (Velma Kelly) is the most successful among them, her take on the fame hungry femme fatale is beautifully judged and she possesses an excellent voice and impressive dancing skills. Hayley Tamaddon (Roxy Hart) while a fine singer, wrings every last ounce of comedy from a role that would have benefitted from a bit more light and shade and West End veteran and soap John Partridge as lawyer Billy Flynn, a man little bothered by his clients’ guilt or innocence, more by their ability to pay his $5000 fee, is suitably oily. Neil Ditt as put-upon husband Amos Hart and A. D. Richardson as journalist Mary Sunshine provide fine support.

This isn’t a production without its flaws, it stalls in too many parts to be truly knock-out, and there are periods when the interest wanes considerably. There’s also an overall feeling that it’s all a bit underpowered and lacking the requisite razzle dazzle. That said, it still entertains and the glorious score when belted out by the live band and the fabulous ensemble, is as always, a joy.

Runs until 24 September 2016 | Image: Catherine Ashmore

This article was originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/chicago-kings-theatre-glasgow/