Theatre: La Cage aux folles
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I beg you, open your eyes, for you have arrived...at La Cage aux Folles."With a book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman, La Cage aux Folles is a hilarious, touching, thought-provoking story about family, homosexuality and tolerance. Loved by millions the world over, loathed by Christian Conservatives. Originally a French stage play written by Jean Poiret in 1973, a French/Italian movie version was released in 1978 which was eventually Americanized as the 1996 hit comedy film The Birdcage. This entry concerns both the American musical adaptation, which had its first production on Broadway in 1983 and the 1978 French/Italian film.Set in Saint-Tropez, France along the French Riviera, the story centers around a gay couple, Georges and Albin. Georges is the manager of the popular, eponymous nightclub, "La Cage aux Folles" (pronounced 'la kahj o fall'), featuring drag acts — including Albin as Zaza, the headlining star. Georges has a son, Jean-Michel, who was conceived during a past one-time heterosexual liaison with a woman named Sybil. Jean-Michel has recently become engaged to a woman named Anne Dindon. However, Anne's father unfortunately happens to be Edouard Dindon, the head of the "Tradition, Family and Morality Party", which wants to close the local drag establishments. So when Anne's parents wish to meet Jean-Michel's parents, Georges tries to persuade Albin to tone it down, and at first Albin plays along, but it turns out he just can't play it straight. So Sybil is to take the place of Albin for a dinner with Anne's family, but when she's late, Albin decides to dress in drag for the dinner...The show is best known for its ground-breaking presentation of a happy established gay couple, and for its proud message of tolerance (though ironically, for fear of offending any in the audience who disagree with the point of the movie, the couple never kisses or does anything more). Georges and Albin are shown to be a generous, loving couple capable of caring for a child and for one another. It has been a success on Broadway (and recently in the West End) and the song "I Am What I Am" has become a rallying cry of the Gay Pride movement.
La Cage aux Folles provides examples of the following tropes:
- An Aesop/Gay Aesop: Gay or straight, family is family. No one should ever have to pretend to be anything other than what they are for others to accept them. Live and love as hard as you know how... because the best of times is now.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: The idea behind Les Cagelles. Jacob could be this as well.
- Bi the Way/If It's You, It's Okay: Georges and Sybil's one-time get-together which led to Jean-Michel.
- Camp Gay/Transsexual
- Disguised in Drag
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Albin sings this in "I Am What I Am".
- French Maid: Jacob, in most portrayals, is an amusing male example as well as an Affectionate Parody, French Maid Outfit and all.
- Has Two Daddies: Jean-Michel (renamed Laurent in the film) was raised by Georges and Albin.
- Hilarity Ensues
- Hypocrite/Out with a Bang: In the movie, Simon's boss, the president of a right-wing party that boasts "morality" and "tradition", dies in the arms of an underage prostitute.
- I Am What I Am: The Trope Namer.
- Last Chorus Slow Down: "With Anne on My Arm" and "The Best of Times".
- Queer People Are Funny
- Screen-to-Stage Adaptation
- Sleep Mask: Albin wears one in the sequel movie.
- Small Start Big Finish: "I Am What I Am"
- Strawman Political: Edouard Dindon (renamed Simon Charrier in the movie).
- Title Drop: Reoccurring all throughout the show even as the title for one of the numbers no less.
- Token Minority: Zany housekeeper Jacob is generally portrayed as a black man (or an ethnic minority) in a traditionally mostly white cast. Regardless of whatever ethnicity any of the characters were originally, the roles can be open to anyone depending on the production.
- Trans Equals Gay
- Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The eponymous drag club.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: With the exception of Georges and stage manager Francis, pretty much anyone at La Cage is this, especially Albin and Jacob. In the original Broadway staging in The Eighties, the director managed to sneak in two women into the drag queen lineup and the audience was faced with the extra challenge of figuring out which ones they were.
We are what we are...