Normally I would start my reviews with some an attempt at a witty joke, or a anecdote about a character, but this time it would be just disrespectful to talk about anything before the genuine ‘star of the show’. John Partridge poured his heart and soul into this part and performance. He effortlessly played adorable Albin by day and his diva alter-ego Zsa Zsa by night. Partridge’s chiselled face and slim physique meant he pulled off the part effortlessly and I barely recognised him as Christian from Eastenders, and frankly, his talent was wasted in that role. I honestly cannot praise him enough.
Zsa’s Zsa’s performance on the La Cage stage was half full of big brass belting songs and sequins, and half modest stand up comedy that brought around any member of the audience that was unsure. Crude yet witty humour had most of the audience laughing, and few people turning their noses up at the guilty pleasure of childish humour.
His relationship with Georges, owner of the nightclub ‘La Cage Aux Folles’, is heart warming and despite them being unrelatable for most, they had a strong sense of comfort and familiarity. This production focuses much more on their, and other characters relationships rather than the story, as the film does. The story has been wonderfully written based on the original play by Jean Poiret in 1973 by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman, creating the first ever UK tour of La Cage Aux Folles.
Georges, played by Adrian Zmed, did a good job of his role but I’m afraid either he was massively in the shadow of John Partridge, or I was comparing him to the Robin Williams version from the film “The Birdcage”. He played the father to Jean-Michele (Dougie Carter) well, as well as being painfully cute in his relationship with Albin. His main role was carrying the story of the trials and tribulations when Jean-Michele is desperate to marry the daughter of conservative politician.
Gorgeous costumes showed off the long elegant legs and feminine lines of the male dancers. To this moment I am still astounded they were men! Choreography and execution of such a high standard I’d expect to see it from a dance troop in the West End. The show girls were the perfect back up to John Partridge during his Zsa Zsa moments.
The cherry on top of the cake was the incredible music. “We Are What We Are” started the evening with a bang and ended with the same level of energy and flourish. The night was filled with a whole host of hit songs and heart wrenching numbers, but you cannot beat that opening number.
A whip-cracking and hair-raising – or shall I said ‘wig-raising’ production by legendary theatre producer Bill Kenwright. I hate to give in and use such a cliches but John Partridge really “tore the roof off”, “stole the show” and “blew me away”. La Cage Aux Folles is a triumph of a modern musical and as Georges said I left “with more than a folded programme and torn ticket stamp”.
La Cage Aux Folles is at Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday.
Listen to “We are what we are” from the 2010 Broadway Cast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4l0NR71G5A