Monday, January 9, 2012

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES • The Fox

Wow.  It's been a long time since I've been to a show.  Hello again, theatre.  I've missed you…

Next in the Fox's Broadway series is a show based on Jean Poiret's 1973 play that was later adapted into a musical in 1983.  That production won a bunch of Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Book, Original Score and Actor.  Its 2004 revival won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, as did this current revival from 2010.  Many of us may be most familiar with the 1996 film version with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, "The Birdcage".  Similar to "The Addams Family", "La Cage" involves an "I'm bringing a fiancée home whom the folks may not be too crazy about" scenario, packaged in rainbow colored sequins -- and it's a blast. 

Les Cagelles
Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
Before the proceedings begin, there's a drag queen outside the Fox and in the lobby greeting the folks coming in.  They did this in NYC too, but for some reason, seeing this in St. Louis was way more fun.  Many people couldn't wait to get their picture taken with this seven-foot beauty -- others gawked with caution.  Ha!  I just thought to myself, "If this bothers you, you might wanna hop back into that Buick and head home."  The pre-show chitchat was entertaining and did a good job acclimating people to the vibe of the show.  A nice addition to the tour that serves its purpose well.  The team putting this tour together obviously did their research -- a couple of people came in a little late during the banter the night I was there and were greeted with, "Where did you guys come from, Granite City?!"

Georges (George Hamilton) is the owner and master of ceremonies of La Cage, a drag bar on the French Riviera, and Georges's long-term partner, Albin (Christopher Sieber), is the headliner, Zaza.  The chorus members of the club, The Cagelles, and their opening number, "We Are What We Are", and all of their other numbers for that matter, show off some of the most athletic performances I've ever seen, and they welcome us into this shabby-chic little nightclub.

Christopher Sieber (ZaZa), George Hamilton (Georges).
Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
Georges's son, Jean-Michel (the result of a one-night stand with a chorus girl), comes home to announce that he is engaged to Anne Dindon, and her parents are due to pay Georges and Jean-Michel a visit.  Trouble is, Anne's father, M. Dindon (Bruce Winant), is an ultra-conservative politician, all about "family values" and whatnot.  In addition, Jean-Michel is insistent that Albin, the more flamboyant of the pair, not be present when Anne's parents arrive, lest the wedding be completely spoiled.  Well, as you can imagine, farce ensues, but mixed in with the farce are some great numbers -- not least of all Albin's incredible act one closer, "I Am What I Am".

It was neat seeing the golden-hued George Hamilton, and he did an admirable job as Georges, from serving as our amiable host at the nightclub, to managing his parade of drag queens, to trying to coach Albin in a very funny "masculinity" lesson.  But as dapper and believable as he is in the role, he's not the strongest singer.  It doesn't really detract from the show though, because Christopher Sieber as Albin is marvelous in every aspect.  He's got a powerhouse voice, and his Albin/Zaza is hilarious, sincere, touching and completely inhabited.  He may be my first male Broadway crush.  WHAT?!?!  Yeah.

Christopher Sieber (ZaZa).
Photo credit: Paul Kolnik
With the current political climate regarding gay issues, and "La Cage" touring during an election year and all, even though this show is from the 70's, it strikes a familiar chord in more ways than one.  Personally, I love it when homophobic people are poked fun at, but more than that, this show ultimately shines a light on acceptance, love and true family bonds and values.  What could be better than that?!

Now to digress for a moment -- I hadn't seen a show at the Fox in awhile, and I was reminded of how it can kinda be like amateur night.  My Fox buddy Bruce and I were sitting in front of a group of 2 couples who obviously have no comprehension of what it means to use your "inside voice".  And also, if you're gonna bring a drink back into the theatre, and you have to chew the ice, could you *please* try to chew it with your stupid mouth closed?  I'd get into more detail, but I'm saving it all up for a St. Louis Theatre Etiquette Part 2 blog.

This tour will be in town till the 15th.  Check it out for a great night of unadulterated "be who you are" theatre!  Say hello to the drag queens while your'e at it.  They're working their tails off out there!


LA CAGE AUX FOLLES

Book by Harvey Fierstein 
Music/lyrics by Jerry Herman
Directed by Terry Johnson
Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Blvd.
through January 15 | tickets: $15 - $70
Performances Tuesday to Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm, Sundays at 2pm, Sunday, January 8 at 7:30pm, Thursday, January 12 at 1pm

Cast:
George Hamilton (Georges), Christopher Sieber (Albin), Billy Harrigan Tighe (Jean-Michel), Cathy Newman (Mme. Renaud/Mme. Dindon), Jeigh Madjus (Jacob), Gay Marshall (Jacqueline), Allison Blair McDowell (Anne), Dale Hensley (Francis), Ashley Kate Adams (Colette), Ken Clark (Etienne), Danny Vaccaro (Tabarro), Rylyn Juliano, Todd Thurston, Todd Lattimore, Christophe Caballerro, SuEllen Estey (Babette) Bruce Winant (M. Dindon) and "Les Cagelles", Matt Anctil, Mark Roland, Donald Shorter, Jr., Trevor Downey, Logan Keslar and Terry Lavell.

Creative:
Choreography by Lynne Page; set design by Tim Shortall; costume design by Matthew Wright; lighting design by Nick Richings; sound design by Jonathan Deans; hair and makeup by Richard Mawbey; stage manager, Karyn Meek.

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