Part of Fierstein's charm is traceable to his crusade for how "family values" inexorably extend to same-sex relationships, which is evident not just in his performance, but in the show's libretto -- which he wrote over 25 years ago -- which focuses on the long-term relationship of Albin and his partner, nightclub impresario, Georges (Christopher Sieber).
Unquestionably, Fierstein's basso profundo appeal also stems from that instantly recognizable voice, which seems to be emerging from somewhere deep in the earth's core. And let's not forget his upholstered physique. (Fierstein's eye-popping wardrobe is mostly newly created by Tony Award winner Matthew Wright and topped by Richard Guy Mawbey's fierce wigs. The effect is fabulously outrageous and outrageously fabulous.)
Better yet, Fierstein knows how to lend the appropriate light-heartedness and gravitas to his libretto's alternately amusing and serious lines, as well as Jerry Herman's tuneful score. Indeed, his first-act finale "I Am What I Am" perhaps resonates as effectively as it does because it not only reflects Albin's declaration of defiant self-assurance, but also Fierstein's unchanging view of himself.
Sieber gives a completely likable performance, and gets the character's virile-with-just-a-touch-of-swish element down pat. He also has the rare ability to make everything he does seem effortlessly spontaneous, and convincingly gives the impression that he's actually ad-libbing to the front row, where imaginative director Terry Johnson has audience members seated at cabaret tables.
In addition to Fierstein and Sieber, recent cast additions include Wilson Jermaine Heredia as wisecracking "maid" Jacob, Mike McShane and Allyce Beasley as Anne's ultra-conservative parents, and Karl Warden as whip-cracking German dominatrix Hanna. As Georges' son, Jean-Michel, and his fiancée, Anne, original cast members A.J Shively and Elena Shaddow continue to shine, as does soigne Christine Andreas as restaurateur Jacqueline. Indeed, the entire ensemble parading their talents in Tim Shortall's predominantly pink jewel-box set is without fault.
Taking a cue from Herman's second-act sing-along, one can say the commendably recast Cage Aux Folles once again proves the best of times is now.
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