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Pittsburgh by Ann Miner


La Cage aux Folles
National Tour

La Cage aux Folles
Christopher Sieber and George Hamilton
The musical La Cage aux Folles and the popular French-Italian film of the same name were based on a play by Jean Poiret and share a basic plotline and setting: in St. Tropez, the owner of a drag club and its star performer have been in a long term relationship and have raised a son fathered during a brief "I wonder what everyone's talking about" fling with a woman. The son wants to bring his fiancee home to meet his parents, resulting in a comedic attempt to create a homelife that might be acceptable to her ultra conservative parents. It's surprising that the 1983 Broadway production was much more successful (1761 performances) than two revival attempts (a 2004 production featuring Gary Beach and Daniel Davis reached 229 performances, and in 2010 a slightly revised version with Kelsey Grammar and Douglas Hodge doubled that).

The current touring production is modeled on the 2010 production, with George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber in the lead roles. One change is that there are fewer members of Les Cagelles, the chorus and club performers. They are not smaller in talent, however, and are a great asset to the production. All in all, the show remains funny, sweet and entertaining.

In the most recent Broadway revival, Sieber filled in as Georges for a couple of months (opposite author Harvey Fierstein). Here, he's a charming and lively Albin, the more theatrical of the two middle-aged men. He efficiently presents the heart and sincerity of the character, who has been a mother to Georges' son Jean-Michel, and wants to meet the future in-laws as such. His "I Am What I Am" is tremendous and moving. George Hamilton looks fit and tan and, though he seems a little stiff when moving, he acts the role well (his well known voice does most of the acting). He is rarely on pitch when singing, however, and his solo musical moments are uncomfortable. Georges is somewhat underwritten, and Hamilton does succeed in showing Georges' genuine love for Albin, so (for star name casting) I can forgive the rest.

Billy Harrigan Tighe plays the young man who is bringing the girl home, and he has a tough job, as Jean-Michel is an ungrateful, rude child through most of the show. Tighe makes him as appealing as possible. Jacob, the flamboyant housemaid, is played saucily by Jeigh Madjus, and Gay Marshall makes a sparkling appearance as restaurateur Jacqueline.

The Cagelles—Matt Anctil, Logan Keslar, Donald C. Shorter, Jr., Mark Roland, Terry Lavell and Trevor Downey—are amazingly lithe, strong and exuberant. They generate a connection with the audience that benefits the whole show.

The Jerry Herman score contains some classic gems, like "I Am What I Am," "With Anne on My Arm" and "The Best of Times," and it's always a welcome treat to hear them, as his shows are too rarely produced.

The La Cage aux Folles tour plays the Benedum through March 18. For tickets and performance information, visit www.trustarts.org. For more information on the tour, visit www.lacage.com.


Photo: Paul Kolnik


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-- Ann Miner



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