Friday, October 19, 2012

Loads of Laughs at La Cage Aux Folles

Direct from Broadway, La Cage aux Folles is a musical that is as relevant today, as it was when it first premiered in New York City almost 30 years ago. This triple Tony-Award winning musical comedy centres around the family dynamic of Georges (George Hamilton), the owner of the nightclub, La Cage aux Folles and his long time partner Albin (Christopher Sieber) who is the nightclub's star drag queen, Zaza. When their son, Jean-Michel brings home his fiancĂ© and her homophobic parents, Georges tries to create an illusion of the heterosexual family lifestyle to appease his son. Albin is understandably not on board and indubitably, hilarity (and predictability) ensue. Remember the movie The Birdcage? 
Campy transvestite, Lili Whiteass gives us a titillating pre-show performance by roasting the audience and makes us feel as though we are at the intimate La Cage aux Folles nightclub. Georges opens the show by formally welcoming us to his glittering night club where we can having a ball (there were literally beach balls thrown to the audience) and introduces us to the masculine and entertaining Cagettes, who dexterously prance about the stage in nothing but lingerie and heels. 

It is commendable that at the ripe age of 73, Hollywood legend George Hamilton is still displaying his acting chops (and his trademark perpetual tan). However, at times his performance falls flat, as he tries too hard to force the chemistry between himself and his lover, Albin. Furthermore, his vocal ability lacks the necessary technique and strength to carry the show. 

A Broadway veteran with numerous shows under his belt and a two-time Tony Award nominee, Sieber is a bona-fide star who upstages his co-star many a time. Playing the larger than life character of Albin, he delivers an unapologetic, show-stopping rendition of the anthem, 'I Am What I Am' in true diva fashion. Watching Sieber sing his heart out on stage was an experience that I won't soon forget. 

The cast also features Toronto's homegrown talent, Jeigh Madjus as the overdramatic, sharp tongued, yet lovable butler, Jacob. The way in which he delivers his acerbic one-liners is quite hysterical. Madjus is a fresh face with the vocal pipes to boot and is an up and coming contender in show biz. 

Family values and frivolity underscore the essence of this show. For a fun and entertaining night on the town, go and see La Cage Aux Folles; I can guarantee that you will laugh out loud many times! 

--Alison Silveira

Starring: George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber
Directed by: Terry Johnson
Music and Lyrics by: Jerry Herman 
Book by: Harvey Fierstein

La Cage Aux Folles plays at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until November 18, 2012.

Photos: Paul Kolnick

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