THE GRAYSHOTT STAGERS SHOW OFF
THEIR GAY GALLIC CHARM
La Cage aux Folles, presented by the Grayshott Stagers in the Village Hall last week, is a demanding musical for an amateur company. Almost all the characters are transvestites, and some of those have not merely come out of the gay closet, but were never in there hiding their sexuality in the first place; the score includes some charming tunes, but is not always easy for the chorus; the production must have a spectacular element; there are ten scene changes; and the director of the show has to find a balance between camping the whole thing up or playing it down in an attempt not to offend anyone's susceptibilities. (It is not in fact a show which is in the least likely to shock a modern audience.)
Difficulties galore, but the Grayshott Stagers succeeded brilliantly in all departments.
Heather Legat directed with a sure and honest hand, and a strong sense of humour. Although the show is all brittle glitter on the surface, pathos and morality are there too, and Mrs Legat, while keeping up a sparkling pace, allowed time for the actors to show us the humanity beneath the butterfly exteriors.
The company were well served by the musical director, Grant Hossack, who conducted the excellent small band with precision, and understood perfectly that the function of the orchestra is to accompany the singers, not to drown them. Although one or two of the chorus numbers were a little too taxing, in general the singers responded well to his direction – and what a pleasure it was to be able to understand every word.
The dancing too was effective, but inevitably cramped by the size of the stage. With a full orchestra and a larger stage this week in Haslemere the show will be even more exciting.
The most striking element was undoubtedly provided by the costumes. As the curtain went up on the first scene, the Cagelles (performers in the transvestite Cage aux Folles nightclub) dazzled us with a stunning array of extravagant gowns bedecked with a million sequins, and even the waiters in a second nightclub wore jackets which flashed brightly as they moved.
Heading the cast, Richard White, as Georges, the owner and MC of the Cage aux Folles nightclub, was dependable as always. That is not faint praise, but a high compliment to an actor who never gives a poor performance, and who managed his part and his songs with aplomb. Jeremy Legat, playing Georges's son, Jean-Michel, brought to the part considerable charm and humour (especially when he had his back to the audience!), and sang and danced with the ease of manner which marks all his performances.
Most of the remaining parts in the musical are quite small, and, alas, there is too little space to compliment them individually, as they deserve. They gave strong support to the leading players in a production to which all contributed.
The biggest contribution of all came from Tony Creasey, playing the star part of Albin, lover of Georges and queen of the nightclub. His voice was perfect for his songs, he was really moving at the point in the story when he is in despair, and the depth of his characterisation overcame the slight handicap of not really being the right physical shape for the part. This was an outstanding performance.
Is all this praise justified? I can only say that judging by the reaction of the audience last Saturday, of which I was part, every member of it would endorse every word. The Grayshott Stagers' production of La Cage aux Folles is on at the Haslemere Hall from May 11th to 13th. Don't miss it.
This article, along with a number of photographs, was given to the Haslemere Herald in plenty of time for it to be included in their edition of 11th May, in the hope that it might encourage the good people of Haslemere to see the show at the Haslemere Hall.
The newspaper did not print the article on the 11th, nor on the 18th May.
Finally, the Haslemere Herald printed the review on the 25th May, however, it was not the same as the article submitted to them. Indeed, it had been edited and amended to the point of being meaningless.
Why the Haslemere Herald has chosen to do this to us, we do not know.