COME FOR GEORGE HAMILTON, STAY FOR CHRISTOPHER SIEBER
The national tour of La Cage aux Folles leaves its audience basking in the warm afterglow of a delightful musical comedy. As an enthused audience member behind me exclaimed at intermission, “I want to live inside this show!” – and no wonder. The Broadway revival of this 1983 Tony Award winning musical, with a clever book by Harvey Fierstein and catchy songs by Jerry Herman, makes for an exhilarating evening’s entertainment.
George Hamilton plays Georges, the owner of a glitzy Saint-Tropez nightclub. In actuality, George Hamilton plays George Hamilton; he never expands beyond his charming Hollywood persona, which sometimes makes him a stiff scene partner with a serviceable voice.
No matter, because the heart of the show is the vivacious and versatile Christopher Sieber as Georges’ romantic partner Albin. With impeccable comedic timing, Sieber flits and floats across the audience’s hearts, shamelessly flirting with his fans as he headlines the nightclub as drag queen Zaza. With Sieber’s astounding dramatic range and commanding voice, Albin is at once the fabulous style and the earnest substance of La Cage.
The family drama unfolds as Georges’ straight son Jean-Michel (an endearing Michael Lowney) struggles to impress his fiancée Anne’s (Allison Blair McDowell) decidedly conservative family. A drag queen doesn’t exactly fit the bill for traditional family morality – but perhaps Anne’s parents should try to see things from a different angle. Character actors Gay Marshall (spunky restaurant owner Jacqueline) and Jeigh Madjus (sassy maid Jacob) add to the hijinks when these odd families meet for the first time.
The glamorous nightclub show and family drama are wonderfully porous in Tim Shortall’s set design, which transitions seamlessly from onstage to backstage – all framed by a glittering proscenium arch. Although Terry Johnson’s direction is crisp, sound design is sometimes muddy and several of Fierstein’s best lines are lost in the massive Pantages Theater.
Still, the “notorious and dangerous Cagelles” command the stage with Lynne Page’s gender-bending choreography, which isolates the lean, long-legged dancers’ body parts and showcases their awe-inspiring flexibility. The choreography is particularly enhanced by Nick Riching’s tight lighting design.
Perhaps most importantly, Jerry Herman’s score is as enchanting as ever. Reprise after reprise of “We Are What We Are,” “Song on the Sand,” and “The Best of Times” will have the audience humming onto Hollywood Blvd following the show, carrying a little piece of La Cage with them – until their next visit.
photos by Paul Kolnik
La Cage aux Folles
Pantages Theatre in Hollywood (Los Angeles Theater)
scheduled to end on July 22, 2012
for tickets, call 800-982-ARTS (2787) or visit http://www.broadwayla.org/
continues on tour through November 18, 2012
for dates and tickets, visit http://www.lacage.com/