KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nearly a decade ago, veteran Hollywood actor George Hamilton said, “You’re 66, you finally get your head together…and your ass is falling off.”
The now 73-year-old former matinee idol manages to keep all of his body parts in one piece as the star of the hit Broadway musical farce, “La Cage aux Folles,” now playing at Starlight Theatre.
For his role of Georges, the owner of a nightclub on the French Riviera that features men in drag, Hamilton brings his polished charm, perpetual tan and patented Hollywood sparkle. His familiar persona fits well into this slick, well-produced extravaganza.
But while Hamilton is sterling and takes top billing, the show belongs to Christopher Sieber who portrays Albin, Georges’ longtime lover and the top attraction at the club. Sieber displays crack comic timing, assured stage presence and solid vocals, giving one of the best all-round performances at Starlight in recent memory.
The 1983 Broadway smash “La Cage aux Folles” was written by Harvey Fierstein (“Torch Song Trilogy”) with music by Jerry Herman (“Hello, Dolly”). It’s based on the hit 1973 French play by Jean Poiret and its internationally successful 1978 film adatation that also inspired the 1996 Robin Williams movie “The Birdcage.”
The story involves the troubles endured by Georges and Albin when their 24-year-old son Jean-Michel (Michael Lowney) announces that he’s engaged…to a woman!
While Jean-Michel was the product of his father’s one-night-stand with a woman, Georges and Albin served as his loving and nurturing parents. Trouble is, Jean-Michel’s fiancée Anne (Katie Donohue) is the daughter of a crusading moralist and right-wing politician named Monsieur Dindon (Bernard Burak Sheredy) who wants to ban gay nightclubs.
At Jean-Michel’s urging, Georges comes up with an elaborate ruse to convince Dindon that they’re a normal, “straight” family…having nothing to do with the gay nightclub downstairs from their apartment. That’s when the merry mix-ups begin.
One of the showiest supporting roles is that of the flamboyant ‘butler’ (and wannabe performer) named Jacob, played with over-the-top abandon by Christophe Caballero.
The scenic design by Tim Shortall, costumes by Matthew Wright, Nick Richings’ lighting and Richard Mawbey’s makeup and wigs are all first-rate. Terry Johnson’s direction and the choreography by Lynne Page are solid as well.
The show’s erratic pace and the occasional out-of-sync dancing by the “Les Cagelles” chorus line are the only flaws in an otherwise accomplished production.
While his matinee idol days may be behind him, George Hamilton still has the star power to light up a summer’s evening at Starlight.
“La Cage aux Folles” runs through September 2nd at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo. Information is available by calling 816-363.STAR (7827) or by visiting www.kcstarlight.com.