Do yourself a favor and head to downtown Cleveland and PlayhouseSquare before November 20th to catch the tour of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES before it heads on to the next city. You won't be disappointed.
The musical wasn't one I was very familiar with before seeing this production. I knew the basic plot: Georges (played by George Hamilton) runs a nightclub cabaret in St. Tropez, France, where his partner Albin (played by Christopher Sieber) stars as "Zaza," the drag queen headliner. Georges' son announces his engagement to the daughter of an ultra-conservative couple, and so begins the challenge to "hide" the reality of Georges and Albin's relationship and career. I didn't, however, know what a fun, playful show LA CAGE AUX FOLLES is.
Even before the show starts, one of the "Les Cagelles" dancers takes the stage to interact and banter with the audience. Asking questions about birthdays and anniversaries created the opportunity for many wise-cracking jokes and off-the-cuff humor.
Christopher Sieber shines as Albin. He's over-the-top, but in the best way possible. His comedic timing is brilliant and his vocal prowess is astounding. For all the laughs Sieber's portrayal of Albin creates though, it's his performance of the Act I closer "I Am What I Am" that will touch your heart. It's in that moment you see past Zaza's sequin dress, big hair and colorful makeup to see the true depth of Albin and his feelings.
Unfortunately, George Hamilton falls flat as Georges. While charming and personable, his performance doesn't really take off or leave a lasting impression. A lasting impression, however, was made by Jeigh Madjas as Jacob, the butler ... er, maid. Stealing every scene he's in, Madjas played Jacob for every ounce of laughter he could create.
The songs by legendary composer Jerry Herman blend seamlessly into the book written by Harvey Fierstein. Both Herman and Fierstein won Tonys in 1984 when LA CAGE debuted. They are awards most deserved, as was the 2010 Tony for Best Revival of a Musical that the Broadway production (on which this tour is based) won. The set is simple, the costumes are glamorous and the lighting makes you feel like you're watching the stage show in a small cabaret.
This is a definite not-to-be-missed musical. Grab a feather boa and make your way to the Palace Theatre before you miss your opportunity!
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES continues its run at PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre through November 20th. Evening performances are Tuesday to Sunday, with matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $10 to $75 and are available by visiting www.playhousesquare.org or by calling the box office at 216.241.6000.
Photo by Paul Kolnik.