Fly into La Cage aux Folles at the North Shore

Sun. March 20, 2022 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Music Theatre Works is kicking off its season with La Cage Aux Folles at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. Running now through April 3, this interpretation of the Tony Award-winning production is worth the trip to Skokie, Illinois thanks to some well played performances and a gay friendly habitat.

RuPaul Drag Racer Ginger Minj has some past history with this musical and brings a fresh, new take to the role of Albin. Jason Richards balances the tight wire act of Georges well, although he has a tendency to oversing at times.

Fans of the movie The Birdcage will spot some similarities from the original source material it was based on in La Cage. The plot involves a gay couple making a conservative straight couple feel comfortable at dinner when their children want to be married. Somehow this situation still rings true today and it will resonate with those that have been trapped in the closet previously in their lives.

The drag numbers are well executed and several secondary characters have moments to shine. Caron Buinis stands out in multiple roles and it is always a treat to see Honey West's presence on the stage.

Leave to Minj to steal the show as the magnetizing lead character with the chops to tackle some very challenging tunes throughout the over two and a half-hour endeavor.

Surrounding the audience, both in the lobby and in the theater, with an immersive experience was a brilliant idea and works well. People are plunged into a world of pink boas and flashy drinks served at an onstage bar. Merchandise is sold in front and the drag queens pose for pictures before the show begins. The escape offered in this safe and welcoming environment will leave the LGBTQ+ community feeling free and no longer trapped in a cage. We are who we are and everyone else can just get used to it!

Justin LeBlanc handles the costuming duties and excells at many of the elegant drag gowns but, just like many designers on Project Runway, stumbles with menswear. Some of the garmets needed tailoring and adjustments on opening night. Hopefully with more time, the fit was fixed and made to work.

Overall, La Cage aux Folles is a piece of work that Music Theater Works can be proud of. The heart of the characters is conveyed well and some of the showstopping numbers will have ticketholders gagging for more.

Prance over to to snatch up tickets today!