Boys will be boys . . . and sometimes they will be girls.
And on Wednesday night, they were definitely at their sequined, high-heeled, drag-queen best.
Opening night at Kelowna Actors Studio saw a full theatre give an enthusiastic standing ovation to the cast and crew of La Cage Aux Folles.
The classic comedy was made famous in the 1990s by the big-screen adaptation The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
The Kelowna production follows the original story line, set in the French Riviera rather than Miami.
Boy meets girl, boy falls in love and announces that he is getting married. That’s when things get complicated. Her parents are ultra-conservative; his are gay, one the host of a tranny nightclub, the other its main drag-queen attraction. And they want to meet.
Mayhem and laughter ensues.
Randy Leslie, no stranger to the Kelowna stage, stars as the flamboyant Albin, a.k.a. Zaza, the glitzy chanteuse of La Cage.
He plays the role with just the right amount of comic asides and winks to the audience in between belting out show tunes with a great set of pipes – and no, we’re not talking about the padding in his bra. Leslie’s over-the-top feminization and gay-isms are the source of many laughs throughout the show. And the guy can cut a rug in style in high heels, which must have taken lots of practice.
His foil is Georges, played by Brandon Shalansky, who handles the role of Albin’s lover and Jean Michel's father with flair and sensitivity.
The headstrong Jean Michel, who is at first embarrassed by his parents, is ably played by Mac Mackay, while his sweetheart, Anne, is played by the appropriately adorable Rowen Siemens.
The “girls” of la Cagelles (Nate Flavel, Avery Kirk, Marko Proddanovic and Thomas Fournier) steal many a scene with their comedic turns and glitzy dance numbers. Pounds of makeup, extravagant wigs, skimpy dresses, nylons and lingerie transform them into mostly believable women – in fact, my girlfriend and I got into a debate as to whether one was indeed a girl or a boy.
And for a guy who appreciates a nice pair of legs, I must say they have great gams – even though it feels a little weird admitting so.
My other half says men’s knees are always the giveaway, a skill she picked up tranny-spotting in Thailand, but I couldn’t see it.
Jacob Holloway also deserves kudos for his campy portrayal of maid/butler Claudine, a wanna-be Cagelle.
The fine supporting cast also includes Ron Green as Anne’s father, leader of the Tradition, Family and Morality Party, and Norene Morrow as his wife.
There were laughs when one of the Cagelles had an “underwear malfunction” in the grand finale, but thankfully no man bits were on display and the girls kept on dancing even though her panties were falling down. And Valeh Ashraf (as restauranteur Jacqueline) did a fine catch and caught herself from stumbling down the steps, not missing beat.
I hadn’t been to the studio in some years, and its seating arrangement has changed somewhat, providing intimate table seating for dinner theatre backed by plush booths and finally traditional theatre seating for those not dining.
Our seats right up front provided an up close and personal experience as several times cast members would descend from the stage and ham it up with guests or just sashay by with a wink and a smile.
La Cage continues at Kelowna Actors Studio on Ellis Street until April 20, with performances at
8 p.m., dinner at 7.
Tickets are available at the box office, by phone 250-862-2867 or
online at www.KelownaActorsStudio.com.