If there’s one reason to see the tour of La Cage Aux Folles, which is playing at the Bank of America Theatre through January 1, it’s for Christopher Sieber’s ovation-worthy turn as Albin, the campy, drag-tastic dynamo who, as his alter-ego Zaza, stars in the nightly revue at La Cage. Sieber, who’s had the opportunity to originate comedic roles in musicals (Lord Farquaad in Shrek and Sir Dennis Galahad in Spamalot) knows how to create interesting and layered larger-than-life personalities — and how to sell a song as if his life depended on it, which makes his first act closing anthem, “I Am What I Am,” a truly thrilling moment.
However, if there’s one reason not to see this tour, it’s for George Hamilton’s stiff-as-a-board presence (I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it a performance — he merely showed up) as Georges, the owner of La Cage and Albin’s other half. Hamilton mostly looks lost at sea on the stage, and his singing of Jerry Herman’s tuneful score is more like off-pitch talking.
Of course the chemistry between the two is about as realistic as the flimsy sets (another reason not to see this tour — it’s positively unremarkable looking), which makes Sieber work double-time to keep their scenes moving. It’s sad to watch, because with a better Georges by his side, Sieber’s Albin could sparky, Zaza, sparkle!
And then there are the Cagelles — all six of them. These tall, muscular men in dresses work their little tushes off, and mostly overcome Lynne Page’s lackluster choreography.
As is the case with any production of La Cage, the show gains steam during the second act dinner party scenes. (If you’ve seen The Birdcage, then you know the plot. If not, I’ve no time to rehash it for you as I’ve gotta duck outta here for holiday travel, so go here.) Again, Sieber saves the day by making a surprise appearance as his son’s “mother.” Mayhem begins, truths are brought forward with the help of a little blackmail and a family is brought back together. Let the hand clapping and gaiety ensue!
In the supporting roles, the one who makes the most impression is the spritely Gay Marshall, who plays the minor but critical role of socialite Jacqueline, and who happens to have one of the most efficient Playbill bios I’ve ever seen:
That’s how it’s done, kids.
“La Cage Aux Folles” plays through January 1 at the Bank of America Theatre. More info here >