"LA CAGE AUX FOLLES" MAY BE THE BEST OF TIMES


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Introducing your new prospective mate for life to your parents for the first time is fraught with complications and causes for concern.When both sets of parents meet simultaneously with the new happy couple, it can be joyous, harmonious or, in a few cases, hysterically wrong. If your parents are both men, the situation can be even more interesting.

Jerry Herman, Jean Poiret and Harvey Fierstein have conjured up one such dramatic encounter in the merry musical "La Cage aux Folles" which literally means the cage of the mad women in French, but there's room enough for mad men too. Ivoryton Playhouse is wrapping itself in pink boas, tons of feathers and stiletto high heels for this rousing riot of a romp about romance until Sunday, August 31.

As manager of a trendy nightclub in Saint-Tropez where men dress exotically as women every evening, Georges, a suave and sophisticated James Van Treuren, takes his unusual lifestyle for granted. His romantic partner Albin, a truly temperamental and trusting David Edwards, has for years been the star of the entertainment as ZaZa. When Georges' son, the result of a one night experimental indiscretion, arrives at the uniquely different family home, he has one request. Jean-Michel, a striving for normalcy Zach Trimmer, wants to come home with his new fiancee Anne, a sweet and innocent Allyson Webb, on his arm. Also arriving to visit will be Anne's parents. The fact that Anne's father (Frank Calamaro) is the head of a Tradition and Morality Party is a definite problem. If her father, the uptight and conservative politician, had his way, all clubs like Georges' would be closed and padlocked. Anne's mother (Samantha Lane Talmadge) follows her husband's directives to the letter.

With their "maid" Jacob, a wildly wonderful Phil Young, leading the charge, Georges and Albin try to ready their establishment for the invasion of the principled parents. Happily for the audience, everything goes awry in a frantic farce of complications. Their friend the restauranteur Jacqueline (MarTina Vidmar) tries to help while all the club dancers the Cagelles prance in merry fashion but the ruse of being a traditional family unit explodes like the myth that it is.Songs like "I Am What I Am," "With Anne on My Arm," "La Cage aux Folles," "Look Over There" and "The Best of Times" are wonderful.

Lawrence Thelen directs this marvelous musical comedy with white gloved cleverness and a sense of mischief. The elaborate set by Cully Long is worth the trip to Ivoryton all by itself.

For tickets ($42, seniors $37, students $20, children $15), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Put on some sequined sparkles for a grand and gaudy visit to the French Riviera and watch a pleasure palace be transformed into a monastery as love and family get new and different definitions.

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