Planning the weekend? Don’t rule out LA CAGE AUX FOLLES now playing at Boston’s Shubert Theatre until December 18!! Even though star George Hamilton cannot sing, dance, or act, the man generates such debonair goodwill, I just wanted to be in his company. I saw the show last week, and the rest of the cast is killer– especially Christopher Siebert who takes the house down with the ACT I showstopper “I Am What I Am”!
And what he is– is a drag queen named Albin whose partner is the less flamboyant Georges (yes, George Hamilton). They live over the title’s eponymous nightclub where Albin stars alongside the “Cagelles”– a bevy of transvestite chorines–who nightly dazzle the clientele. The ladies are fabulous, funny, glamorous, gorgeous, and way over the top! They kick up their heels, scatter their sequins, invade your space, and basically charm the heck out of you whether you want to be charmed or not.
The plot thickens when Georges and Albin’s son brings his fiancee’s straight-laced parents home to meet the family, and Albin has to decide what to wear– a jacket and tie– or a dress and heels! Clearly, the decision is loaded, and gets to the heart of what the show– beneath its maribous feathers and mascara– is all about: tolerance, truth, and love in all its guises.
I remember the show’s 1983 pre-broadway tryout in Boston, and how Jerry Herman’s music and lyrics and Harvey Fierstein’s book made me laugh and cry and want to run out and pop a champagne cork. This production isn’t quite as fresh and bubbly– but it still is, what it is– an effervescent and poignant valentine to family values which over time seems less outrageous but somehow more touching than ever.