Thursday, October 11, 2018

La Cage!

 La Cage Aux Folles
hit Broadway in 1983,
with Jerry Herman's great music
and Harvey Fierstein's great book.
Gene Barry and George Hearn starred,
but at first these two straight actors hesitated
 to play gay roles.
“It’s funny, but I never thought twice about playing a cold-blooded murderer
 like Sweeney Todd,” said George,
who played Sweeney post-Len Cariou.
  Colleen Dewhurst finally convinced him to audition. 
“She said, ‘Don’t be a fool. You’ll have a great time.’
Gene Barry's children talked him into it...
his daughter wanted him to try for the more flamboyant role
of Zaza. 

 Arthur Laurents directed and assured them:
"This was not going to be any camp show. 
We really wanted to go for ‘heart’ in La Cage
I always felt the thing to go for was emotion. 
These two people care for each other."
The show would go on to win 6 Tonys,
including Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction,
Best Costumes, Best Musical,
and a Tony for George.
It ran for over 4 years, and almost 1,800 performances.
Above Merle Louise, Jay Garner, John Weiner, George and Gene.
the original Cagelles! 

 And below, another version of Cagelles! 
Replacements and stars from other productions:
Van Johnson, Peter Marshall, Gary Beach,
Kelsey Grammar, and Douglas Hodge, just to name a few!

 But first came the movie!
Well, actually SECOND came the movie,
because the 1978 French comedy was based on a 
play by Jean Poiret from 1973.
The movie starred Michel Serrault and Ugo Tognazzi, above,
and played FOR EV ER at the 68th Street Playhouse in NYC,
where I worked in the box office for a year of that "forever."
Hence, I know every frickin' line!

 Michele, above as Zaza,
won a Cesar, a David di Donatello Award and 
a Sant Jordi Award for Best Performance.
Below center, Ugo, whose voice was not used, strangely enough.
He was dubbed in French releases by Pierre Mondy
and in Italian releases by Oreste Lionello.

 Serrault with Michel Galabru,
who played the conservative diplomat/would be father-of-the-bride.

 The 1996 American version, The Birdcage,
was written by Elaine May, directed by Mike Nichols,
and starred Gene Hackman in the "conservative" role above,
Nathan Lane, Hank Azaria, and Robin Williams.
In the ensemble, Dianne Wiest, Christina Baranski, and Calista Flockhart.

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