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It’s tough to define “La Cage.” Adjectives like “high-energy,” “immersive” and even “iconic” might come to mind, but suffice to say that the cabaret experience hitting the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Cinegrill Theatre starting on Oct. 5 is unlike anything that can be seen anywhere else.
“It’s a new vision that kind of blends old-style nightclub into [something] more modern day, but with an homage to the golden era of Hollywood for this particular venue,” MC Tommi Rose said. “So we have that jazzy 1930s-40s nightclub feel, but we still have that dark European cabaret feel. It’s a mash up of ‘La Cage’ meets cabaret meets burlesque meets Cirque du Soleil.”
The show is rooted in the La Cage Aux Follies nightspot, a storied 1980s Los Angeles venue that took on the flavor of a 1940s Sunset Strip supper club. The club itself was inspired by the French play and film “La Cage Aux Follies,” which took place at a drag club in France. Everyone from Lucille Ball to Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the La Cienega venue. The location was a landmark for drag performers, and among its original cast was Rose, who honed his craft with such legends as Divine and Phyllis Diller, and has worked with the likes of Carol Channing, among others. Among the characters and impersonations he does in the new “La Cage” show is the Jane Russell part of “Two Little Girls From Little Rock,” the actress’ duet with Marilyn Monroe in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.”
“I actually knew Jane,” Rose said. “I owned a store in Palm Springs called The Drag Bag, specializing in clothes for entertainers, with gowns and wigs and jewelry. And she came in needing a new wig, and she wanted it in the old style that she used to like to wear. I happened to have a couple in stock. I cut it on her and fit it to her and put it on her, and I put her in one of my beaded jackets.”
Michael Diefenbach of Rialto Entertainment and Eric Tremble of Avenge Creative are the producers for the show. They said the Cinegrill, located in the Roosevelt’s basement behind a bookcase, takes visitors back in time to Old Hollywood.
“It spoke to us when we were trying to find a venue to bring this to life,” Tremble said.
“The history behind this integral [space], and everybody that has performed there, and just the history in the hotel itself – is super immersive,” Diefenbach said. “It automatically transports you into that time. So there needed to be a show in that room that reflected just what the room even looked like.”
“It’s an evening where you walk in … [and] you’re stepping back in time. You’re walking into a fantasy,” Rose said. “It’s one of those shows where [you say], ‘Wow, we’re not quite sure what it was … but it was amazing.’”
Tremble said that there’s something for everybody in the show, complete with mash-ups of older and newer songs that pay tribute to all eras of music, adding that they wanted to make sure every person in the room felt like they were represented.
“Your friends who maybe are not those theater people and can’t really stand theater are also going to be like, ‘Oh my god, that was amazing,’ because it’s going to be something they completely don’t expect,” Tremble said. “When the show starts, it’s just going to change their whole mind on what they thought they were seeing.”
Diefenbach said now is the perfect time for this kind of immersive show.
“I think just post-pandemic there’s a thirst for this type of entertainment, and especially in a city like L.A., which is the heart of show business,” he said. “We really crave that spectacle … that… captures Hollywood and brings us back to that era. There’s nothing like that here … And I think people are thirsty for it.”
Each show will also have a special celebrity guest, including drag performer Ada Vox and Grammy and Emmy-nominated actor Cheyenne Jackson.
“[I’m] happy to help open this exciting new experience in this iconic venue,” Jackson said. “Los Angeles has been craving a place like this.”
“Who knows what [this three-month run] could open up and where the show can go,” Tremble said. “We’re super excited to show everybody what we’ve been working on, and it’d be amazing for it to continue on past this three-month run. That is the goal.”
After its Oct. 5 opening, “La Cage” will run Friday nights, with performances at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. For information, visit welcometolacage.com. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is located at 7000 Hollywood Blvd.
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