There are some shows that are destined to be enjoyed.
For lighthearted fare, Hairspray is hard to beat.Much Ado About Nothing orSingin’ in the Rain are similarly universal feel-good shows.
But nothing beatsLa Cage Aux Folles for the perfect comedic show. It has it all – a troupe of fantabulous drag queens, a coterie of paillette-strewn costumes, song and dance, and a meaningful plotline with a few righteous morals thrown in.
No show could be more appropriate for Minneapolis, the newly-anointed ‘gayest U.S. city.’
The first ever off-Broadway production of La Cage, which opened at the State Theater on Wednesday night, does this excellent script proud. The flow and production here are flawless. Transitions between the luxe trappings of La Cage Aux Folles’ stage and backstage and the queer-turned-spare apartment feel completely natural, and not a moment is wasted. The three hours spent in this theater feel like three minutes by the time you’re done.
Christopher Sieber, a born St. Paulite and best known for roles on the Olsen twins’ Two of a Kind series and multiple Broadway performances (with multiple Tony nominations as well), shines as gay transvestite Albin. Sieber’s portrayal of the wounded, middle-aged-but-still-potent cabaret star is as poignant as it is roilingly funny, and he makes the show.
Unfortunately, the weakest link is George Hamilton (who has appeared in Dynasty, Dancing with the Stars and Crocodile Dundee to name a few), who is supposed to be the show’s big draw. At a deceptively sprite 72, Hamilton does what he can with the role of Georges, the owner of La Cage Aux Folles. But the role is an emotional one, requiring inflection, range and feeling- and most of the time, Hamilton just doesn’t have enough of it.
Despite the occasional wooden delivery, the ensemble cast of this production is tremendous. Cathy Newman (Mme. Dindon), Bernard Sheredy (M. Dindon), and especially Dale Hensley (Francis) all give wonderful cameo performances, as do the show’s queens.
This La Cage is an impressive season opener for the Hennepin Theater Trust, and I suspect it will be hard to beat despite a strong lineup for the rest of the year.
Audiences of all demographics – as demonstrated by last night’s diverse attendees – and backgrounds will love this show. Make sure to snap up your tickets before La Cage moves on next week.
La Cage Aux Folles continues through Sunday, Oct. 23 at the State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. For show times and tickets, visit the Hennepin Theatre Trust's website.