By Ben Rimalower
13 Aug 2013
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
2. Robin De Jesus, La Cage Au Folles
The character of Jacob in La Cage Au Folles is written to be funny, and is, in fact, seldom played without eliciting laughter. Certainly Michael Benjamin Washington's performance in the 2004 revival was hilarious, as was Hank Azaria's as Agador, the equivalent character in (the non-musical big screen adaption of the same source material) "The Birdcage." But there was something special about Robin De Jesus' performance in the 2010 revival with Kelsey Grammar and Doulgas Hodge. Like Hank Azaria, he brought a Hispanic accent to the role, and it lent Michael an almost Rosie Perez, Bronx Puerto Rican down-home quality. This could have been called "Jacob from the block" and in De Jesus' warm, appealing performance, the audience gave him free rein to be as bitchy and smart-mouthed as he could — sassy to the hilt — because he was never less than completely lovable. If Jacob didn't want to do his job housekeeping, we sympathized, understanding he had better things to do. He was a star. Of course, within the plot of the show, he can't actually get his big break, but scene stealer that he is, we won't stop hoping.