Yeah, drag queens make me a little intimidated. It’s something that isn’t unheard of, I’m sure many have felt the same. With regard to that, the La Cage Aux Folles queens were stirring and intimidating because of their skill and sheer talent, and there were many talents to talk-up in the extremely well cast production of La Cage. My mind reels at what those ladies can manage in heels, not to mention wigs, pantyhose, and layers of padding! Hence, it’s hard not to feel completely inadequate.
The unique plot of La Cage Aux Folles encompasses the strife of show biz, and one of the most peculiar parental dilemmas you’ve ever heard. Georges (embodied by the vigorous George Hamilton) runs the show at his drag club, La Cage Aux Folles. (By the time the show is over, you will have heard it enough times to have no difficulty with pronunciation). Jean Michele (Billy Tighe), Georges’ son who could otherwise do no wrong, does so when he sets his sights on a girl from a very conservative, politically active family. George and his lifestyle are forced into secrecy when Jean Michele invites his future in-laws to visit. This disheartening fact is made worse when George’s star and long-time love, Albin (Christopher Seiber), is temporarily banished, in order to keep up the inconspicuous facade. (Oh, and the setting certainly has a French disposition, but I’m afraid I know not whether it is actually set in France.) Being a teenager, breaking the hearts of the parental figures is not an unfamiliar theme, but this story is quite unique and makes La Cage Aux Folles very attractive indeed.
In addition to the desperate pleas from parents, being a teenager, one hears often about how attractive confidence is. Christopher Seiber played the hell out of Albin, the character felt so real and so confident it was like an epiphany. Even the costume seemed to cry, “I Am What I Am, and I am BLINDING YOU WITH SEQUINS!” I was so moved, I spent a solid hour later that evening on Youtube watching nearly four hundred versions of “I Am What I Am”. But unfortunately, drag queens only make me intimidated and jealous, so the rest of the night was spent in self-pity. (Sigh, C’est la vie.) Albin was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! It couldn’t have been the fact that Mr. Sieber is a St. Paul native, could it?
There were moments during the show when I almost felt sorry for everyone else on stage. “Who can TOP that”? Nonetheless, the supporting cast never failed to impress. Mr. Hamilton’s voice didn’t quite compare, but his stage presence was undeniable. I suppose "top" would be the wrong word, "topping it off" would be more accurate.
To be sure, a major hats off to the entire creative team is in order. La Cage’s Lynne Page (choreography), Matthew Wright (costumes) and Tim Shortall (set design) concocted a genius “illusion” for the people gasping to my right and left, “The Bird Cage!” Conversations erupted afterwards over the scene where the “queens” were performing acrobatics on an oversized cage, brandishing limbs and various plumage. Honestly, even the Historic State Theatre seemed to applaud and complement the aesthetic of the show.
So what if one finds drag queens are intimidating, flagrant, fabulous or envy-inspiring? Experiencing La Cage Aux Folles is something you do not want to miss. I feel an immense respect for the cast, creative team and corset that binds together this riveting revival.
Respect from a teenager? Aidez-moi!