There’s still time to see La Cage Aux Folles, winner of three 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival and Best Director (Terry Johnson), at the Longacre Theatre; it closes May 1—you’ll also get to watch the maligned queen Zaza as played by Harvey Fierstein, the show’s original book writer. The revival is reminiscent of Gypsy (interestingly Arthur Laurents directed the 1983 La Cage) and Cabaret; it's a different take on drag, too. Then, as I recall, the actors were supposed to be confused with real women (“What we are is an illusion” goes one of Jerry Herman’s opening lyrics)—Fierstein, however, won’t fool anybody for a moment today—he’s all heft and deep throat.  The chorus,“the notorious and dangerous Cagelles,” aren’t going to win any beauty pageants either—but they might be able to play football after the closing (the athletic choreography is by Lynne Page). Bette Bourne, who knows something about dressing like a woman—the Englishman starred in the 1980s legendary cult group, Bloolips–has said he never wanted to be a female impersonator; instead he simply saw his characters as “men in frocks.”  That line of identification seems to me to be more of what this production of La Cage Aux Folles, from England, too, is about. Its defense of individuality is also justified by another, maybe more famous, Herman lyric: “I am my own special creation”—it doesn’t have much to do with sexual preference and you can throw Milton Berle, Flip Wilson, and John Travolta into the sisterhood, as well, if you like. “I Am What I Am” can actually justify almost anyone’s concept of drag or belief in anything with a little jiggering; it’s as American as “I Did It My Way,” even if the original play and movie were French, written by Jean Poiret (you may also remember The Birdcage, an American version of the story written by Elaine May and starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane). Another memory from the ‘80s, regarding the show, is that it appealed enough to women to keep it running for 1,761 performances; Zaza’s plight apparently mobilized the matinee crowd.  Maybe you could bring your own conservative in-laws to see this production, saying that it’s actually about self-made men and the pursuit of happiness (and it is!)–the hetero juveniles never become more than types, though. Call it a watershed for presenting gays on stage, if you insist; miss the productions that you’ve seen and have trouble saying goodbye to, but this is really an old-fashioned musical that isn't going anywhere; built to last, La Cage Aux Folles is a Broadway warhorse. Christopher Sieber and Christine Andreas also star.   

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