BWW Interviews: Lili Whiteass Says LA CAGE AUX FOLLES is 'Not To Be Missed' at Fisher Theatre
La Cage Aux Folles, the three time Tony Award winning Broadway musical and starring George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber, is coming to the Fisher Theatre in Detroit and Lili Whiteass says "it's not to be missed." Why should Ms. Whiteass be listened to? Well, she knows what she is talking about; after all, she is the queen who opens the show. "I get you ready for a great night with some stand up comedy," she says, "and be prepared because I'm an equal opportunity offender."
Ms. Whiteass is a new aspect to the show, which had its first run on Broadway in 1984. It was revived in 2005 then this production is the reconceived version of 2010. It is the first show in the history of the Tony's to ever be awarded best production three times. It began with director Terry Johnson, winner of the best director Tony for this production, who had the idea of having a drag queen outside when theatre patrons arrived at the show. "Terry wanted them to start the experience immediately," says Todd Lattimore, "almost like a drag queen would be at nightclub, letting people know where to go and to welcome them."
On Broadway, Lattimore was "every woman" or a swing of the show and Lili would only perform when he was not on for some one else in a performance. "I cover all men playing men and all men playing women," he says, "I still do this, but now Lili gets to come out every night." Lattimore, a New York native, created Lili Whiteass and worked with Johnson to have her open the show. "Since Broadway the show has changed to make sure every night the audience gets Lili," he says, "she comes out in the lobby and welcomes the crowd, then about a half hour before curtain, she performs on stage for the waiting audience."
On Broadway, Ms. Whiteass would perform without a microphone while sitting on stage and interacting with the audience. Now since the venues are much bigger, she has one and a spotlight as well. "Plus since it's full stand up comedy act, I literally stand up," she says. "That way you can't ignore me." She has a brand new wig for the tour and she has a new costume for every night. "It's wonderful," she exclaims, "I always look good and now since I'm standing center spotlight each night, I never ruin my skirt from sitting on stage!"
Ms. Whiteass stays on top of all the current news stories and keeps her act fresh and relevant. "Being an equal opportunity offender, I laugh at me first," she says. "I go in and let the audience have it because the truth is always funny. It may be at someone else's expense, but still it's funny."
Touring the country and bringing Lili to life in different cities has been a great experience for Lattimore. Born and raised in upstate New York then working on Broadway, he finally is out experiencing what else there is offer and why he misses New York City. "When you're away from New York City for long periods of time, you realize how fantastic it is," he says. "There is no place else like it in the whole country, let alone the world.
He loves performing in the show and being able to take on different roles when he is needed. Portraying Lili every night is an immediate warm-up for him. "The show is fantastic with a great cast and amazing numbers you don't want to miss," he says. "I love having the opportunity to bring Lili out every night and to be able to transform into another character and be in the show immediately after."
La Cage Aux Folles is filled with wonderful musical numbers, great dancing, fantastic costumes, and a fabulous cast according to Ms. Whiteass. She also does not want theatre attendees to forget that they can come early and meet her. "Come early and see me in the lobby," she says, "you might even get the privilege of having your picture taken with me, but remember no photography during the show!"
Ms. Whiteass wants to remind her fans, and soon-to-be fans, that they can find her on all the popular social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) under her name Lili Whiteass. She also wants to remind them to "do something beautiful today, such as coming to the show while it's in Michigan."
La Cage Aux Folles runs for two weeks at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit from September 25th through October 7th. For more information or tickets, visit www.broadwayindetroit.com.