Friday, December 23, 2011

La Cage Aux Folles at the Bank of America Theater

At one point late in the second act of Jerry Herman's and Harvey Fierstein's “La Cage aux Folles” one of the characters shouts out Homosexuals to the two leading characters the effect is supposed to be shocking. I'm sure when the show first opened on Broadway 1983 it was but in the recent tour that opened up Wednesday at the Bank of America Theater and playing a 2 week engagement the effect has become more muted and less shocking then it was when the show originally opened. It could do with the source material which has been covered everywhere from an Oscar winning foreign film, to several sequels, to a big box office smash remake “The Birdcage.” It could be that the subject matter has transitioned from being a gay “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” to something that would fit in a half hour sitcom. I think the problem lies more in a by the numbers production that seems to borrow from other recent revivals for ideas.

However with all that said at the center of the show is a heart and soul about love, family bonds, and acceptance that is timeless and very hard to ignore even trapped in a production that could have been pulled together, walked though its paces and then thrown on stage for all to see.

La Cage Aux Folles tells the story of Georges, the owner of a glitzy nightclub in lovely Saint-Tropez, and his life partner Albin, who moonlights as the glamorous headliner Zaza. When Georges' son brings his financee's conservative parents home to meet the flashy pair and let's just say that madcap hilarity ensures!

The one thing this national tour has going for it is a sensational full out top of the line Diva performance by Broadway veteran Christopher Sieber as Albin/Zaza. Mr. Sieber channels everything into his performance playing the laughs at full hilt, the drama with complete conviction, and the

Albin's rejection with a pain that is both real and unbearable all the while belting out his showstoppers “Put a Little More Mascara On” and the showstopping anthem “I Am What I Am”. It's the type of performance that will bring fans all over the country to him.

Sadly the same can not be said by headliner George Hamilton who plays his role with a breezy attitude that almost comes across as sleep walking.

He does though posses natural chemitrsy with Mr. Sieber that makes one understand their relationship though when it comes to his music it became almost painful every time you realized he was going to slowly pace though one of Mr. Hermans's stunning ballad. World class songs like “Song on the Sand” and Look Over There” were given 15th rate edition performances that belonged at an airport cabaret lounge.

The rest of the cast ranged from excellent Bernard Burak Sheredy and Cathy Newman as the in-laws the Dindon's to the adequate Billy Harrigan Tighe who is saddled with the role of the son Jean Michael but posses a serviceable singing voice to the way over the top Jeigh Madjus who seems
to have just been eliminated from RuPaul's Drag race right before going on stage.

The production directed by Terry Johnson who won a Tony Award for the revival really should be sending a bouquet of flowers to Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall for borrowing heavily on their concept for the smash revival of “Cabaret”. There were also traces if not full replications of Sweet Charity, and Kiss of the Spiderwoman in both design and choreography. Matthew Wright's costumes though we used to great effect and teetered the line from flashy to downright trashy which seemed right at home in this production.

At this point when you have a story as timeless as La Cage aux Folles is it might be better served with a show that isn't as dated as this particular production is and if its going to be that way then spruce and sparkle it up with an exciting cast and production around it.

La Cage Aux Folles is playing at The Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe from December 23rd, though January 1st tickets can be purchased though the

website at

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