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La Cage aux Folles

Presented by James L. Nederlander, Clear Channel Entertainment, Kenneth Greenblatt, Terry Allen Kramer, Martin Richards, casting by Jim Carnahan, C.S.A., at the Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway, NYC. Opened Dec. 9 for an open run.

Don't expect deconstruction or reinterpretations. "La Cage aux Folles," winner of the 1984 Tony Award for best musical, simply gets a respectful re-energizing in this buoyant revival. And it's a happy choice.

With the onrush of gay themes into mainstream media, the show, focusing on a blissfully happy middle-aged male couple along with lots of gender-bending, may not carry the same revolutionary ardor it did in 1983. But its depiction of individuality battling an overbearing moralistic credo (lighthearted as it is in Harvey Fierstein's joke-filled book) certainly has its share of relevance today. The script tells how Georges and Albin, who operate the St. Tropez drag-show nightclub of the title, meet a family crisis concerning Jean-Michel, Georges' son from an experimental one-night stand. Raised fondly by the pair into straight young manhood, Jean-Michel suddenly announces he's marrying the daughter of an antigay crusader, and he's bringing the prospective in-laws home to meet his parents.

But beyond any messages, the production stamps "La Cage" with renewed validity as a deliciously entertaining Broadway bash. Jerry Herman's score, with its infectious melodies and often-inspired lyrics, gets an appreciative airing. Director Jerry Zaks—except for a few clumsy moments—keeps laughs perking with his signature brisk pacing. William Ivey Long's costumes are spectacular, Scott Pask's sets eye-filling.

At its core the show has two splendid performances. Daniel Davis imbues Georges with the authority of an accomplished actor, along with a vibrant baritone. As the fey Albin, Gary Beach displays an appealing vulnerability when his character is not performing and dazzles when he dons full drag to appear as the celebrated Zaza. But the biggest shot of new adrenalin comes from Jerry Mitchell's go-for-broke choreography, carried out with exuberant abandon by the bevy of gorgeous male chorines. If there were an Olympic gold medal for drag dancing, it should go to each and every one of Les Cagelles.

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