Among the numerous shows in my current blogging backlog is the Boston stop of the national tour of La Cage aux Folles. I was so enamored of Terry Johnson's heartfelt and smart production when it was on Broadway (read my review) that I went back to see it again when Harvey Fierstein took over for Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge (read my revisit review).
I didn't get to see Christopher Sieber as George on Broadway (I saw the George understudy right after Jeffrey Tambor bid the show a hasty adieu, and before Sieber signed on), but I was especially looking forward to seeing the always reliable and downright adorable Mr. Sieber play Albin/Zaza in the tour.
Fortunately, Sieber does not disappoint. Unfortunately, he's saddled with a costar who may just as well have stayed home with his tanning bed. But more on him later.
Christopher Sieber is simply delicious as Albin, wonderfully playful and mischievous, but with a strong sense of nobility when the need arises. As wonderful as he was as Albin, I can also see him bringing a warm sense of stability to playing the part of George. It's really a shame that cloning technology has not progressed to the point at which we could have Sieber play both roles, but alas we are stuck with George Hamilton, who, simply put, has absolutely no business being up on that stage.
I can't say I've followed Hamilton's career very closely, but I can imagine he was quite charming and engaging in his day. His day, it seems, has passed. At 72, Hamilton is leaden and soporific in a role that should be light and suave. You could see that he was trying to be animated (well, as much as his surgically augmented, gravity defying face would allow), but his line readings, when they weren't utterly incomprehensible, were at best wan and mumble-mouthed.
I know that touring shows can benefit greatly from marquee-value headliners, but is this man really that much of a draw? How long has it been since he was culturally relevant, as opposed to a walking punchline? To me he's sort of like the Gabor sisters: you know he's famous, but you'll be damned if you can recall what for. Whatever reason the producers signed him up, his presence utterly deflates this delicate souffle of a production.
The La Cage tour is currently playing in Chicago, and has upcoming stops in Tampa, Pittsburgh, Houston, and Los Angeles, among many other stops. It's worth taking in for Sieber, without question, and the supporting cast members are professional, if indistinct. And, of course, there's Jerry Herman's witty and tuneful songs, although the orchestra in Boston was noticeably thin and tinny. And I don't usually notice these things. (Do I, Kevin?) So if I'm finding the orchestrations anemic, I can imagine that a real aficionado would be reaching for the iron supplements.