On Stage: La Cage Aux Folles

I do so enjoy it when I go into a show with low expectations and walk out more than pleasantly surprised.

“La Cage Aux Folles” was not high, if at all, on my Broadway musical bucket list. I’d seen “The Birdcage” and liked it well enough but not so much that I wanted to watch it in musical form. Plus, it was starring George Hamilton, who is better known for being tan than for his musical chops. But there it was on the Fox Theatre agenda so I decided to check it out.

My, that was entertaining.

Based on a 1973 French play by Jean Poiret, the story centers on a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring an all-male cast performing as women — if you get what I’m saying. Hamilton plays Georges, the manager of the nightclub. His longtime lover, Albin (Christopher Sieber), is the club’s star attraction.

Christopher Sieber and Geroge Hamilton in "La Cage Aux Folles." Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Some 20 years earlier Georges had an affair with a woman which resulted in a son,  Jean-Michel (Billy Harrigan Tighe). The mother ran off, leaving Georges and Albin to raise the lad. Now grown up, Jean-Michel has come home to announce his engagement to Anne (Allison Blair McDowell).

There’s one snag: Anne’s father (Bruce Winant) is a conservative politician who  clearly wouldn’t approve of Jean-Michel’s parents. And the prospective in-laws are coming over to meet the parents.

Jean-Michel demands that Georges remove all flamboyant items from his house — including Albin. When Jean-Michel’s birth mother fails to show up for dinner, Albin steps in and hilarity ensues.

With book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, “La Cage Aux Folles” features fabulous costumes, inventive set designs, memorable music and first-rate performances. George Hamilton shows he’s more than just a tanned Hollywood icon but the truly standout performance belongs to Christopher Sieber. His performance is outrageously entertaining and he can really belt out a song with conviction, especially “I Am What I Am,” which closes the first act.

The story is clever and the dialogue is sharp. The songs are also memorable, which can’t always be said for modern musicals. It’s a delightful show. Highly recommended.

“La Cage Aux Folles” runs through Jan. 15. http://www.fabulousfox.com/

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