1st Night TV: Barrowman's Back on Song in Cage
Date: 6 October 2009
John Barrowman, returning to the musical stage after a five-year absence, last night (5 October 2009, previews from 14 September) became the latest star to don sequins and tights as drag queen Albin/Zaza in Terry Johnson’s multi award-winning Menier Chocolate Factory revival of La Cage Aux Folles at the West End’s Playhouse Theatre.
Panto and concert tours aside, Barrowman hasn’t been on stage since 2005 when he starred opposite Rob Lowe in the courtroom drama A Few Good Men at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. He’s best known theatrically for his musical credits including Trevor Nunn’s 2002 revival of Anything Goes, which transferred to the West End’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane after opening at the National and for which Barrowman won the 2004 Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
In more recent years, Barrowman has become a household name from his TV appearances in Torchwood, Doctor Who and as a judge on the BBC musical theatre competitions How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything, which were hosted by Graham Norton, who made his West End debut playing Zaza earlier this year (See News, 27 Nov 2008).
The role in Johnson’s revival was originally played by Douglas Hodge, who won this year’s Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical for it. Barrowman has taken over from another Olivier Award winner, Roger Allam (See 1st Night TV, 14 May 2009). He stars opposite Simon Burke, last seen as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, as his on-stage lover Georges.
To coincide with last night’s opening, our TV partners at Reelkandi paid a visit to the Playhouse Theatre to chat with John Barrowman and Simon Burke for this video feature, which also includes exclusive performance extracts from the show.
Based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret and subsequent 1978 French-Italian screen version, Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s 1983 Broadway musical comedy La Cage aux Folles focuses on a gay couple – Georges, the manager of a St Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin/Zaza, his star attraction - and the adventures that ensue when Georges' son Jean-Michel brings home his fiancée's ultra-conservative parents to meet them. In 1996 it was adapted for the big screen as The Birdcage, starring Robin Williams.
The revival is designed by Tim Shortall and choreographed by Whatsonstage.com Award winner Lynne Page, with costumes by Matthew Wright, wigs and make-up by Richard Mawbey, musical supervision and orchestrations by Jason Carr and musical direction by Michael Haslam. The current cast also features Syrus Lowe, Abigail McKern, Iain Mitchell, Alicia Davies, Gabriel Vick and Tracie Bennett.
The production was first seen at the 150-seat Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, where it ran, with Hodge and Quast, from 9 January to 8 March 2008 (previews from 27 November 2007). It opened at the Playhouse on 30 October 2008 (previews from 20 October). This year, in addition to two Oliviers (the second for Best Musical Revival), La Cage aux Folles won two Whatsonstage.com Awards and the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.
- by Terri Paddock
|i went to see john barrowman on the 31st of october, john was fabulous and the show was fantastic, fantastic, fantastic, and i so want to go and see it again but i dont think i will be able to, if he comes somewere cloder to manfield i will go and see him in anything, i hope i do get to go again though before he leave the show, but i love john barrowman he is amazing, and i have so much respect for everything he does, love him x - brooke||02 Nov 09|
|Just to add that I really would love to see this show and I might get to see it yet, I love John Barrowman and have a huge respect for his vast talent, I have read his books and have a few of his cds, it is good to see him back in musical theatre and if the above recording is anything to go by he has lost none of his musical talent and his voice is fantastic! - Gillian||08 Oct 09|
|We saw the show on Tuesday night (Press night). It was the 8th time we have seen the production. I love John Barrowman but I did not enjoy the show as much this time. I really missed Graham Norton!! He was so good. We saw John Barrowman and loved his concert at the Royal Albert Hall (John Barrowman in Concert). Sadly it was "John Barrowman in La Cage"! Everything and everyone was just slightly over the top and "high octane". It just did not do it for me. Simon Burke was very good as were the rest of the cast. - Paul||07 Oct 09|
|I am going to see the show this weekend, Fri & Sat eve. The true JB Fan has complete respect for him as an entertainer/Actor and are mature enough to appreciate that his role is one that does not warrent a screaming frenzie. We all know how professional he is in a theatre role/anything he does and we as fans I would hope would not disrespect him in that way. I know that I not only speak this for myself but my close friends too. I can't wait for Friday to come. - Sharron||07 Oct 09|
|This article is useless as a theatrical review. It says nothing about the performance. It simply regurgitates what the whole world knows about John Barrowman. No wonder there are so many irrelevant comments in reply to it.
By the way, how many times does he have to come on some talk show and explain about his accent before people stop going on about it as if its a character flaw? - Rose P.||07 Oct 09|
|I've been to see John Barrowman in this. I was worried that, for instance, when he first appeared on stage there would be screams from the audience, but there weren't - it wasn't much different from the times I have seen it with other people in the role, except that the applause was louder and there was a standing ovation at the end! It most definitely was NOT a Barrowman concert, and all the other performers got their due. It is well worth going to see - especially for Simon Burke who excels as Georges! - J||07 Oct 09|
|Gillian, to a degree I tend to agree with you. It is a theatre show, and it ISN'T just John's show. Most Barrowman fans are very passionate about John, as I am, but I don't like OTT distractions in the theatre.
Yes audience participation does make it fun, and I'm sure we can egg John on a bit when appropriate, but there is nothing worse than when audience members totally disrupt the flow of a theatrical show.
I am going to La Cage three times, twice in mid Nov and then for the final night John performs in it. I am very much looking forward to it, and I just hope that all the JB fans respect the team of performers as a whole, and allow everyone in the audience to enjoy La Cage.
As you said, it isn't one of John's concerts, so we do have to be careful not to totally cross that line at the theatre.
Going to the theatre is not exactly cheap, so everyone should be allowed to enjoy the WHOLE show and music, and the performers' take on the characters. - Ruthy||06 Oct 09|
|The only thing that puts me off going to see this show is the Barrowman fans, I love JB as much as anyone else, but dread the thought of attending a theatre where there is constant shouting, screaming etc from the fans, its a theatre not a concert, I have attended only one of Johns shows but it was spoilt by the near hysteria of some ladies, I go to hear John sing and perform not to listen to these 'fans'. - Gillian||06 Oct 09|
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