Wednesday, December 21rd, 2011.
by David Cohen
The 1978 French-Italian film adaptation of the 1973 play La Cage aux Folles by Jean Poiret, won over the hearts of millions all over the world. In the most positive way, the film portrait a tender, touchy of a real relationship of an openly gay couple Renato Baldi, the manager of a Saint-Tropez drag entertainment nightclub, and his lover Albin Mougeotte the star attraction named Zaza. The madness and the complications all begin when Renato’s real son announced his intention to marry his fiancée, and brings her and her ultra-conservative parents to meet his “not so typical family.”
In the film, the chemistry between the gay couple was magical, and so believable making this film to remained the #1 spot for foreign film released in the United States forever. Unlike the film production of La Cage aux Folles, the stage production version by Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein does not have the energy or the impact of the French film that I love so much. Regardless, the show manages to deliver a funny, sad, and insightful perspective of a real long-term gay relationship with all the highs and lows.
George Hamilton in the role of Georges is way too stiff, and doesn’t have what it takes to play this role. He is too old for this part, and he is lacking the charisma that his character needs. His voice is too flat and monotonous. Unfortunately, you need more than just a name to be good in this role. You need to be able to project, have some “Joie de vivre” and to be convincing as Georges. He is a total casting mismatched to Christopher Sieber in the role of his “wife” Albin.
With his extraordinary acting ability and impressive commanding voice range, Sieber is the savior of this production. He is hilarious, and gives Zaza all the jesters a “Drag Queen Diva” should posses. He is the one who brings the show to life, and he is the anchor of every sense. Sieber ignites the stage with his own fire, energized all the other drag queens, and give “La Cage” the essence of what that show should be. After all, there aren’t many actors who could do justice to this role .
For the mainstream audience the costumes, the dancing, the dirty talk, the heavy-duty make up, the high heels and beautiful thin legs that every woman would kill for is nothing but a joyful mystery. As an openly gay guy who traveled the world extensively I was blessed to see some of the best drag shows in the world. “La Cage” could have been a total winner if the producers would have been more careful by choosing the right actors that would have make you wonder if they are men or women. After all, a drag show is always fun, even if it doesn’t have the best talent.
The music of “La Cage” will always be inspiring and will always be a draw. The music is simply great and enjoyable. Overall, “La cage” is a fun show, and it is a good choice for the holiday spirit. At the end, you will leave the show with a smile on your face, and that is not an illusion!
The show will run through January 1, 2012, at the Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe. Tickets at $32-$100. Call 800-775-200 or visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.