broadway

Kelsey Grammer Is Straight-Washing La Cage aux Folles. Is That So Terrible?

This is an excellent-albeit-condensed profile of Kelsey Grammer, the raging Republican (but foe of gay marriage bans), who co-stars in Broadway’s new La Cage aux Folles. Having been married three times, and fathered a daughter out of wedlock, the actor is the last person to speak about some institution worth protecting, so it’s nice to hear he’s not doing it. What Grammer is doing, however, is straight-washing La Cage, and we’re not sure how we feel about that.

Grammer tells New York‘s Adam Sternbergh the play is just “a great story about any couple. They all have the same dynamic: a heterosexual relationship, a homosexual relationship, a man-with-dogs relationship. There are universal events that take place: the differences, the angers, the insecurities, the histrionics. You would call it, I guess, a male-female dynamic. This just happens to be two boys. … In a sense, these two characters end up reflecting a far more traditional picture of Mom and Dad than most of us ever had. It’s almost Walton-esque.”

He was doing something similar on Friday’s Today show, insisting the musical — for the unfamiliar, see The Birdcage — is just “a story about a family.”

In the one sense, yes, it is! But also: It’s a story about a very un-tra-di-tion-al family. One that’s very gay. Originally a French play, La Cage‘s entire reason for being is to bounce liberal gay norms off polite conservative society; there just happens to be this “family” archetype Grammer speaks of involved.

As the star, Grammer is also the Broadway show’s ambassador. And to make the $16.5 million prject a fiscal success, it needs to sell tickets. Which might involve playing down the outrageous gay antics, and playing up how orchestra seats are the perfect way for a family to spend an afternoon. Even with raging drag numbers before intermission.