Prince Charming George Hamilton and Callipygian Christopher Sieber Dazzle Detroit in LA CAGE
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by Anton Anderssen
Prince Charming George Hamilton and callipygian Christopher Sieber are now on stage at the beautiful Fisher Theatre, in the outrageous and wacky musical "La Cage aux Folles". Broadway In Detroit is always working hard to bring entertainment that appeals to diverse audiences, and this is one of those niche productions that had audiences rolling in the floors with laughter.
Irreverent and glamorous, this is the story of a gay couple who own a cabaret on the French Riviera. Their son John-Michel (Michael Lowney) is straight, and wants to marry a girl from an ultra-conservative family. My heart bleeds for these folks, because I know first-hand the emotional turmoil felt on both sides of the fence.
I came from an ultra-conservative family, in an ultra-religious community in Amish Territory in a red state, and we had a home that looked like John-Michel was our decorator. We had crosses, pictures of Jesus, even pews where people sat when they came to our home prayer meetings. Two of my uncles, James and Clarence were conservative Baptist preachers, with religious convictions to rival the Westboro Baptist Church. My mother went to a conservative all-girl Catholic high school, run by nuns from Hell. The stork must have made a wrong turn when it brought me, a sensitive Broadway-Show-Tunes-loving bubbly, chubbly progressive, something like Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) on "Modern Family" into this land of "Green Acres". Zsa Zsa / Eva Gabor on a pig farm, it was.
The bridge between left and right is fraught with peril, and it is invariably constructed of eggshells. I'm certain that John-Michel's task of telling his future in-laws that his parents are gay is similar to one of Mitt Romney's sons announcing his betrothal to Honey Boo Boo.
I never fell for George Hamilton as gay Georges from Saint-Tropez; I saw him as a star with a really good sense of humor. I suspect he's on stage because he's a huge box office draw, and he's there to charm the audiences. Hamilton is always perceived as sharply dressed, highly refined, with immaculate grooming. In La Cage, he lets us see him with disheveled hair after he pulls his head out of Albin's butt. It's a hilarious side of Hamilton we rarely get to see.
The callipygian Christopher Sieber is best known for his role as the handsome daddy on "Two of a Kind;" in La Cage he plays Albin and his alter-ego "Zaza." Sieber brought the house down in Act I's finale, "I Am What I Am". This song was recorded by Gloria Gaynor and proved to be one of her biggest hits. It was also recorded by other artists, including Tony Bennett, Pia Zadora, John Barrowman and Shirley Bassey, becoming the anthem of the Gay Pride movement. Sieber has more talent in his little finger than I'll ever have in my whole body. I'm really envious of him – his handsome looks, amazing talent, incredible career, and radiating charisma. But I won't let me envy turn an ugly shade of green; instead I'm going to say, he's a gift to the stage.
Sieber is hunky and adorable, showing exceptional talent as a stage chameleon, however I never got into his female character – I guess I just like him too much as a man. The chorus never struck me as drag queens either – just acrobats in dresses and big hair. At pride events I've seen gurl impersonators that look like Jennifer Aniston "to the T" so real it was impossible to tell they were genetically male. The Cagelle gurls (Matt Anctil, Logan Keslar, Donald C. Shorter Jr., Mark Roland, Terry Lavell, and Trevor Downey) have developed muscles in places where I don't even have places: to me, they still looked like men.
My husband and I have a house on the Riviera, and we live there seasonally. I've never seen anything along the promenades that even remotely appeared like the characters in La Cage. If anything, Liguriennes wear all black, fiddle with their strands of pearls, drive Ferraris, and look more like The Romney constituency. The beaches are where you moor your yachts, not where you party. In the Broadway farce, the stage manager has a relationship with a dominatrix who continues to beat the living daylights out of him; in real life, Dale Hensley is just as funny and outrageous: he has a shrine to Katy Perry, which features religious candles with her face on it. Now, Harvey Fierstein is a genius, and we don't expect anything ordinary brewing in his creative mind, so when he wrote La Cage aux Folles I'm sure it reflected his reality more than experiences of an ordinary couple of gays living on the Riviera like we. While La Cage is a funny show about a certain gay couple, it's not representative of all gay couples.
La Cage makes a beautiful statement for same-sex relationships, and as a cultural anthropologist, I applaud this paradigm shift in American perspectives. The American Anthropological Association's statement agrees, "anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies." No one really knows why there are gay people – according to a strictly genomic theory, it should have disappeared because gay people do not tend to reproduce. On a more evolutionary theory, it must be advantageous for humans on the whole to have people around who are the antitheses to the Octomom. If you have to change diapers for 20 years, it's hard to find time to devote your passions to other endeavors, as Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Marcel Proust did.
La Cage recently made Tony Awards history as the first show to ever win the Tony Award three times for best production. The classic musical comedy by Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein originally won six Tony Awards in 1984, including Best Musical. A Broadway revival won two 2005 Tony Awards including the Best Revival of a Musical prize. The new, freshly reconceived La Cage won three 2010 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Director of a Musical (Terry Johnson).
"La Cage aux Folles" continues at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, through Oct. 7. Tickets: $40-80. For information call 313-872-1000 or kindly visit www.BroadwayinDetroit.com.
Photos courtesy Broadway In Detroit
George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber " src="https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/69187_10151269381790739_328670290_n.jpg" alt="George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber " width="500" height="391" />
Paul Kolnik" src="http://www.broadwayindetroitpr.com/download_temp/kN3ZnXwxhaZgTcBrawMu/George%20Hamilton%20as%20Georges%20and%20Christopher%20Sieber%20as%20Zaza%20in%20La%20Cage%20aux%20Folles%20Photo%20Credit%20Paul%20Kolnik.jpg" alt=" G. Hamilton as Georges and C. Sieber as Zaza in La Cage aux Folles Photo: Paul Kolnik" width="501" height="412" />