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La Cage aux Folles: Theater Review - Ladue News: Arts & Entertainment

La Cage aux Folles: Theater Review

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Posted: Monday, January 9, 2012 9:52 am | Updated: 10:02 am, Mon Jan 9, 2012.

Story: Georges is the proprietor of the glamorous and drag nightclub, La Cage aux Folles, in Saint-Tropez, France, where his long-time partner Albin masquerades nightly as the show’s star chanteuse, Zaza. They live in a handsome apartment above the club, assisted by their butler Jacob, who aspires to be a member of the Les Cagelles chorus.

All is well until Georges’ son, Jean-Michel, returns home with the news that he is engaged to the daughter of an ultra-conservative politician, and that her parents want to meet Jean-Michel’s parents before blessing the union. Jean-Michel insists that Albin leave their home and that his birth mother, who rarely has seen him in 24 years, show up and pretend to be happily married to Georges, who will pose as a retired military man. But will the ruse work? And will Albin accept this insult?

Highlights: In 2010 this celebrated musical made history by becoming the first show to win the Tony Award for Best Show or Best Revival of a Show three different times, following its original honor in 1984 and first revival in 2005. Composer and lyricist Jerry Herman won the Tony Award for Best Score while playwright Harvey Fierstein took home the statue for Best Book with the original production.

The current touring presentation, which began in September, features veteran Hollywood performer George Hamilton in the role of Georges and Christopher Seiber, who portrayed Georges in the 2010 Broadway revival, switching gears to perform as Albin. Seiber’s magnificent versatility, particularly his impeccable comic timing and delivery, is the most enjoyable aspect of this touring version, along with Herman’s easy-to-hum, smoothly melodic score and appealing lyrics.

Other Info: Terry Johnson, who won one of the three 2010 Tony Awards for the production (Douglas Hodge as Albin took the remaining one), directs with an easy-going pace that allows plenty of time -- perhaps too much -- for the show’s various scenes. Counting a blue but very funny pre-show act by someone named Lily White A##, who exchanged ribald banter with the audience, this La Cage consumes nearly three hours.

Costumes by Matthew Wright are resplendently ostentatious, complemented by Nick Richings’ striking lighting, most pronounced on the elegant nightclub numbers performed in risqué fashion by the athletic members of Les Cagelles, namely Matt Anctil, Logan Keslar, Donald Shorter Jr., Mark Roland, Terry Lavell and Trevor Downey. They all move gracefully and rhythmically to the smartly choreographed numbers designed by Lynne Page, while gaily adorned by wig and makeup designer Richard Mawbey.

The show’s musicians are coyly seated in ‘balcony’ areas of the two-tiered set designed by Tim Shortall, with the lower level serving for the nightclub and café scenes and the upper level depicting the second-floor apartment of Georges and Albin. Those marvelous musicians include director Joey Chancey on synthesizer, associated conductor Ryan Cantwell also on synthesizer, drummer/percussionist Brad Flickinger and trumpeter Bill Dowling, under the orchestral and musical supervision of Todd Ellison.

Sieber brings a wide and accomplished range of skills to his performance. He hams it up humorously when required, but can also dial down his portrayal to make poignant moments all the more affecting. Hamilton suffers by comparison, particularly as he struggles to reach the comparatively mild musical range for his tunes, but he does carry off Georges’ debonair style with his traditional flair.

There’s very good work by Gay Marshall as the flamboyant restaurateur Jacqueline, but Jeigh Madjus is simply too far over the top and annoying as the outrageously effusive butler Jacob. Billy Harrigan Tighe and Allison Blair McDowell are serviceable as Jean-Michel and Anne, as are Bruce Winant and Cathy Newman as the cartoonish parents of Anne, the ultra-conservative Monsieur Dindon and Mme. Dindon. Dale Hensley is fine as Georges’ stage manager Francis, while Winant and Newman double as café proprietors Renaud and Mme. Renaud.

Enjoy the music and Sieber’s superior performance as well as the impressive prowess of Les Cagelles. Forgive the other elements and you’ll have a pleasant enough evening at this exotic venue where love does indeed conquer all.

Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.

Group: Touring Company

Venue: Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Blvd.

Dates: Through January 15

Tickets: From $15; contact 534-1111 or metrotix.com

Photos courtesy of Paul Koknik

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