The new Broadway incarnation of La Cage Aux Folles opens its national tour in central Iowa Tuesday, featuring an Iowa native.
SuEllen Estey is a member of the ensemble for the racy musical. She’s lived in New York for decades but is originally from West Union and is thrilled the premiere will be in her home state, though she admits, it’s been a whirlwind.
“We started rehearsals September 6th in New York and we came here to Des Moines a week ago Wednesday,” Estey says. “We’re opening the tour here and we’re putting together all of the elements of the technical, costumes, makeup, scenery, orchestra.”
Estey has devoted much of her life to the theatre and lives on Manhattan’s Upper West side, but she says she adores Iowa and is fond of her Fayette County roots.
The last time she was on an Iowa stage was in 1995 for another musical, “State Fair,” which also opened its national tour in Des Moines. Being back in the Hawkeye State means family reunions for Estey. “I have some cousins who are coming from Council Bluffs and who are going to be here on opening night,” she says. “I have many friends who are also going to be seeing the show. I still have a residence in West Union and many friends here so I’m looking forward to seeing them.”
One of the stars of this show is George Hamilton, playing the owner of a glitzy nightclub. Estey calls Hamilton the “sweetest gentleman” who’s “as gorgeous as ever.” Hamilton has been known for decades for sporting a dark, golden tan. Estey was asked if she’s ever spotted the actor ducking out to a tanning salon.
“You know, it’s possible but I haven’t ever seen him do that,” she laughs. “The weather has been so beautiful that all he really needs to do here is just step outside for a moment, right?” The show runs Tuesday through Sunday at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. For information, visit: www.civiccenter.org.