Free Bird

This La Cage aux Folles just about soars

Other problems include: Peter Haig, who, as Dindon, mistakes bluster for imperiousness and creates a monster that not even a pansy could be afraid of (or even an idiot would vote for); and Cecilia Isis Torres's portrayal of Jean-Michel's love interest, Anne, whom, for all the weight and characterization she's given, might as well not exist at all.

A nonexistent love interest; a weak antagonist; an unsympathetic young lover. These problems would doom most productions, but this La Cage is anything but doomed. It's a superb show, and although a lot of the credit goes to the source material, the orchestra, and the lovely Gulledge, Davis, and Cagelles, the success or failure of the piece has always depended upon Albin. He is the dramatic and musical focus of La Cage, and we are moved only if he's moving; we'll laugh only if he's funny; we'll believe only if he's believable. As portrayed by Gary Marachek, Albin is all of those things. Like the maid/butler Jacob, Albin is the product of stereotypes stacked upon stereotypes, but Marachek makes those stereotypes breathe. Marachek's Albin is utterly affected but unflinchingly human; an uneasily aging and self-absorbed basket case that is, at the same time, a pillar of love and unshakable inner strength. At the end of Act I, when he sings "I Am What I Am," he sings it with a conviction and resolve that make the George Hearn cast recording sound phoned in. This man means it, and we're glad — we wouldn't want him to be anything else.

The rose! The wine! It's all too much!
The rose! The wine! It's all too much!

Details

Book by Harvey Fierstein, Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman. With Gary Marechek, Jerry Gulledge, E. L. Losada, Marcus Davis, Stacy Schwartz, Peter Haig, and Angie Radosh.

Through April 8. Actor's Playhouse at The Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. Call 305-44-9293, or visit www.actorsplayhouse.org.

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