February 19th, 2011

La Cage 03

Witnessing Douglas Hodge & Kelsey Grammer's Emotional FINAL Performance! Truly The Best of Times...

It's been about a week since I was in the audience of the final performances of Douglas Hodge, Kelsey Grammer, Robin DeJesus, and Fred Applegate in LA CAGE, but it moved me and affected me so much that I'm actually only now able to fully write about it... It was truly one of the most emotional and memorable theatrical moments that I have ever been fortunate enough to experience!

What an emotional afternoon it was! The audience at the final show on Sunday was made up of die hard fans who had loved and supported the show for the entire year. There were folks who came over from London, tons of people who'd seen the show at least a dozen times throughout the year, and friends and family of the cast who filled the first several rows of the theatre. So when Kelsey came out to standing ovations and screams that wouldn't end,... he was so touched and overcome with emotion that he began to cry - which, of course, made us all cry... AND scream and applaud even louder. He looked out into the audience and saw all the familiar faces who have supported the show the entire year and he said, "Excuse me,... I'm going to have to take a moment here." It was the beginning of THE MOST heartfelt and memorable show I have EVER seen... anywhere.

Moments later, Doug was supposed to make his entrance with his opening line, "Who dares to call my name? I who have been SO wronged?" He usually says this line backstage, and then makes his entrance to applause each night. But on Sunday, he could barely get through "Who dares to call..." when the entire audience erupted in almost deafening screams and cheers. When he couldn't finish the line because of all the screaming, he walked out on stage to even louder cheers and when he saw the audience, all on our feet screaming for him,... he broke down in tears as well.

The screams and applauding lasted for several minutes. He looked over at Kelsey, who was watching him and tearing up himself seeing our admiration for Doug, and after a couple of minutes, Kelsey walked over to him and gave him a huge hug and kiss and the audience screamed and applauded even more - which is when I truly lost it... Doug wiped his tears and tried to compose himself and quiet the crowd down and said, "We're going to have to try to get through this somehow." And then asked if he could make his entrance again. It was SUCH a touching, heartfelt, and just AMAZING moment. I will never forget it.

The show went on pretty much the way it was supposed to,... until AJ Shively (who plays Jean-Michel) sang "Anne on My Arm". I noticed he was teary-eyed throughout the entire song, but when he got to his final, "I'm simply a man..." he paused... He looked over at Kelsey and just broke down into tears. The orchestra was sensitive enough to stop the show for a bit when it was clear that he needed time to compose himself and Kelsey mouthed "It's alright" to him and gave him a big hug. We were all in tears as we screamed and cheered for him - we loved that he was so overcome with emotion that he had to stop the show. It was so... human and wonderful to witness. After a few minutes of trying to compose himself, he ended "Anne on My Arm" stronger than I've ever heard him. LOVED it.

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I will never, EVER forget the performance or be thankful enough that I was in the audience to see it. For me, having seen and fallen in love with the show and the cast for the first time during the final preview before opening night last April and having seen it a total of 15 times... including the night before the Tonys, it was just SOOOO emotional and SO wonderful to be in the audience to witness it all!!

I don't think I'll ever experience a more special or moving performance or, for that matter, a show or cast that I will hold closer to my heart. It was BY FAR the MOST AMAZING theatrical experience of my life!!