The musical “La Cage Aux Folles” makes quite an impression, and not just because it features a bunch of dudes in drag powering through some of the most physically demanding dance numbers to ever grace a Broadway stage. In heels no less.
It is instead the longevity of the show, which since its debut in 1983 has enjoyed multiple, successful revivals and inspired the movie “The Birdcage,” that proves there is a lot of heart and substance underneath the musical’s flamboyant and bawdy exterior.
The national tour of “La Cage” is currently showing at the Fox Theatre through Jan. 15 and is one of the strongest shows to come through the Fox in the past few seasons.
This particular incarnation is also notable because it stars Hollywood icon George Hamilton. The Tan One has been in showbiz for the past half-century and while he is arguably more famous for his glowing skin tone and “Love Boat” appearances than any of his actual performances, you have to give it up to the guy for being able to stay in the game as long as he has.
Hamilton plays Georges, the dapper gay owner of La Cage Aux Folles, a French nightclub that features a small army of drag queens in its floor show.
Hamilton isn’t going to blow you away with his vocal prowess, but you can’t argue with his stage presence and his ability to deliver a satisfying performance.
Georges’ long-time partner, Albin (the outstanding Christopher Sieber), also happens to be the star attraction at La Cage and the two have spent the better part of their lives raising Georges’ son, Jean-Michel (Billy Harrigan Tighe).
Complications arise when Jean-Michel announces his intentions of marrying into a politically conservative family and wants to introduce his in-laws to his “normal” family.
Georges and Albin reluctantly agree to closet themselves and the show gets a lot of comedic mileage from Albin first attempting to pass as straight before opting to much more successfully posing as Jean-Michel’s mother.
“La Cage” somehow manages to still feel fresh and lively even as the ruse falls apart in standard sitcom fashion.
Ultimately, there are three main reasons why this touring production is worth your time.
First and foremost is Sieber. This Broadway veteran steals the show. His Albin is outrageous and hilarious, but never pandering.
It also doesn’t hurt that the guy can sing, as he graciously carries Hamilton during their duets and then proceeds to bring the house down during the number “I Am What I Am.”
Secondly, the music is outstanding from beginning to end. Never once does the show lag and the chorus of boys-as-girls dancers keep the energy high throughout, even peppering in a little audience participation (watch out for the beach balls!).
Lastly, what shines through the most about “La Cage” and the reason I suspect it will continue to be revived well into the future, is the central message that the best and really only way to define a family is through love. Everything else is just semantics.
“La Cage Aux Folles” is now showing at the Fox Theatre now through January 15. For tickets call (314)-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.