(Photos by Paul Kolnik)
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES A Joyous Revival I Loved It
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, with all its makeup and heels, drag queens and Broadway stars, glided into the Broward Center last night and I simply loved it.
Jerry Herman who provided the glorious scores for HELLO, DOLLY! and MAME, wrote the score for LA CAGE including what are probably two of the best theater songs of the second half of the twentieth century. "A Little More Mascara", sung by Zaza the star drag queen of La Cage as he transforms into a she, is just about as grand a show tune as one will find. "I Am What I Am", also sung by Zaza is a powerhouse of pride, love of self and is an exercise in teaching us how to bring the house down at the end of act one. 'Bring the house down' at the end of act one is what this production did, except for those standing and cheering or clapping. These audience members were either wrapped up in the moment, needed a release from their goose bumps, or wanted to pay respect for the sheer brilliant theatricality of this song and the way it was presented to the audience.
LA CAGE opened on Broadway at the Palace Theater about 30 years ago. I saw that original Tony winning production, starring George Hearn and Gene Barry. Although flawed, I had a great time at the original production and returned twice to see it at the Palace. This was after the French film of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES was a sensation in the United States, and before THE BIRDCAGE was released to fine success with the critics and even finer success at the box office.
(Christopher Sieber and George Hamilton)
LA CAGE in all its incarnations is based on the French play of the same title by Jean Poiret. The story of two gay men who have been in a relationship for over twenty years whose lives are put in turmoil when their 'son' decides to marry the daughter of an infamous conservative, right wing politician, is a romp, a farce and a blast.
This production, as seemingly all productions of this show, gets its priMary Power from Jerry Herman's magnificently funny and touching score. Along with the aforementioned Hello, Dolly! and Mame, La Cage is third in the trio of Mr. Herman's masterpiece Broadway musicals. This production also features the unforgettable performance of Christopher Sieber as the flamboyant drag queen star Albin/Zaza.
Mr. Sieber had us in the palm of his hand about a third of the way through "A Little More Mascara." He never let go. A larger than life performer, Mr. Sieber is physically big and he used this to great avail in bringing us the funniest Albin we have ever seen. Mr. Sieber is also blessed with a wonderful instrument. (Not that instrument, you naughty thing you.) His singing voice is a gift from the theatrical Heavens and his performance of "I Am What I Am", will stay with you long after La Cage has rung down its final curtain. Had I been wearing a hat, I would have tossed it in the air. But Mr. Sieber had to settle for the thunderous standing ovation he received at the curtain call. Come back and see us soon Mr. Sieber. Better yet, just stay here and continue to reign over Fort Lauderdale with your great talent and theatrical magic.
Mr. Sieber's life partner is delightfully played by George Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton received warm, loud, and lovely entrance applause. To shamelessly use a cliché, it was as though the audience was greeting a beloved friend who had been away for far too long. Performing the "Hello, Dolly!" title song may have seemed in order, but that is the wrong show and Mr. Hamilton is the wrong gender. As tanned and great looking as ever, Mr. Hamilton as Georges delivered the performance, we frankly expected. Understated and elegant, with a singing voice, that while not very good, delivered his two big solos well enough that his and Mr. Herman's work brought forth tears streaming down my face. Mr. Hamilton, it is so very nice to have you back in Fort Lauderdale, "where the boys are."