Much of the buzz surrounding the current National Tour of the Tony-winning 2010 Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles revolves around its two stars, George Hamilton as George, still going strong and looking fabulous at seventy-two, and Christopher Sieber, who’s now graduated from playing George on Broadway to the more scene-stealing role of Albin. Still, there would be no La Cage Aux Folles without the gorgeous drag performers known as “Les Cagelles.”


Standing out among these dazzling beauties is a young New York-based dancer named Matt Anctil, who has already racked up quite a résumé. (Broadway: La Cage Aux Folles (Angelique). National/Arena tours: Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Numerous dance companies, industrials, commercials.) Matt added to these accomplishments last year by competing in the 5th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant as Mr. La Cage Aux Folles, and by being named Broadway Hero of the Month by

The multitalented Matt recently took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us in anticipation of La Cage Aux Folles’ upcoming two-week run at Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center For The Arts, and a fascinating, elucidating conversation it was!

So Matt, tell me … When you were a little boy growing up in Massachusetts, did you ever dream that one day you’d be wearing sequins and mascara on Broadway?

Well, I certainly dreamt about being on Broadway (and I secretly dreamt about wearing sequins and mascara, which I did at my babysitter’s place when we would play dress up), but I can’t say that I ever thought that I would be doing both, let alone it being my Broadway debut! But I love it! (And I’m very proud.)

Did you always know you wanted to be a dancer?

I always knew. There was always a fixation with bodies in motion. I would sit in the doorway of the studios in awe when we would go pick up my babysitter’s daughter from dance class. But I think it began even earlier, like when I’d go to my brother’s football and basketball games and would not watch a thing he was doing but would have my eyes glued on the cheerleaders. Eventually I was the team mascot and was learning their sideline routines … at age three or four.

How did the people around you react to such nascent fabulousness in their midst?

I always had a great support system from my family, school, church, studio, community, etc.

How old were you when you started dance classes?

I started dance at age five, and throughout my childhood and school years I made it my prime focus to the point where I was traveling forty minutes to school, getting on an hour and twenty-minute train to Boston in order to train until ten or eleven p.m. and then driving with my mom the two hours back home … everyday.

What would you say prompted all this dedication to your craft at such a young age?

You really don’t ever have a rhyme or reason for following your true passion. It just happens. A lot of time at the studio while juggling school work set up a constant checkpoint for myself at which I had to choose whether or not this is truly what I want to do. At the end of the day, after all the traveling and stress, the answer was always yes.

You’ve done lots of dance shows, music videos, and the like. How different is it for you to be part of a book musical like La Cage? (I assume you’re also singing in addition to executing those Cagelles kicks.)

It’s delightfully different in many ways. The material alone is so classic and I’m honored to be able to perform it every night. While you’re always communicating in some context in art, we are delivering a message of love and family with characters that each have their own back story. A lot of times in company dance work, you’re taking a more abstract and removed approach to your message, which is delivered and received in its own manner.

And how does this differ from music videos and other filmed performances?

The major difference to music videos, film, TV etc. is the fact that those performances are captured and preserved with technology. Live theater is captured, experienced and preserved in the moment with the mind and heart … and let’s be honest, there’s no “take two” in theater.

The LGBT community has made amazing strides in the years since La Cage Aux Folles first debuted as a film nearly forty years ago and on Broadway nearly thirty. How tough is it to keep La Cage from being dated, to keep it relevant to 2012 audiences?

Well, I think the message of acceptance, love and family transcends generations. Our director, Terry Johnson, has a remarkable knack for bringing things to a realistic and raw place. I see it in a lot of his work. This show has such a legacy, but Terry saw the realism in the story and brought that to the forefront. There’s a particular beauty in the intimacy of this production. You don’t need to choke the story with excessive acrobatics, feathers, glitter, sets on hydraulics and the like. We have just enough glitz and glam to please the eye while keeping La Cage Aux Folles, the nightclub, still “rather gaudy and also rather grand.” It’s a barely glitzy place that houses a story that’s more glamorous and beautiful than most Bob Mackie designs.

To what do you attribute La Cage Aux Folles terrific staying power, including not one but two Broadway revivals in the 2000s?

I had a fan once tell me the answer to this very question at dinner. It’s the message of love and family with the tone of “Your limited perception of me does not define me.” Along with Jerry Herman’s classic score and gay anthems like “I Am What I Am,” the message is so poignant and it always brings people to their feet.

You’ve appeared in the Broadway company of La Cage and now are part of the National Tour. Can you compare the two experiences, especially performing opposite three such different Albins as Douglas Hodge, Harvey Fierstein, and Christopher Sieber?

Each star whom I’ve worked with that played Albin has had their own take on the role, naturally. Looking at Harvey and Christopher, I see a lot of similarities. In fact, Christopher has said many times that during his time in the Broadway company playing George opposite Harvey as Albin, that he took a lot of inspiration from Harvey and applied it to his Albin on the road. Doug came to Broadway with such a history in the role from doing it in the West End, that it was so incredibly original and moving … particularly when he married that history with the talents of Kelsey Grammer. I have learned so much from all of them, including George Hamilton, about the art of acting, comedic timing and subtlety.

What’s been your favorite part of touring so far?

My favorite part of touring, aside from traveling, has been seeing how the show affects different parts of the country. I also like exploring the different gay communities and promoting our Cagelle girl group “GIRLBOOM” all over the country.

Matt’s “dragsformation” into Angelique, as reported in the Des Moines Register

My guess is that you probably never imagined as a little boy that you’d one day be competing as Mr. La Cage Aux Folles in the 5th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant.

You’d be correct. I never thought I would be competing in a pageant, nor did I know that there was ever a pageant in the Broadway community, but thanks to my dear friend Marty Thomas, who is a Mr. Broadway title holder himself, I was enlightened about this wonderful event.

How exactly did that happen?

I received a call from Marty one day in between shows and he asked if I’d be interested in competing as “Mr. La Cage Aux Folles.” It’s an honor to perform for charity and I do it every chance I can. It was the perfect opportunity to represent my show and myself in a positive light.

And how was that experience for you?

Matt (2nd from left) in the swimwear segment

The whole thing was a blast. Performing with Lee Roy Reams and the other contestants—who are all dear friends of mine—in front of a celebrity panel of judges was an experience I will never forget. It was a nice creative outlet for me to put the wig and heels away for a minute—well, until the swimwear competition—and do what I love to do.

How did you come up with your talent segment, dancing to Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Bye Bye Blackbird”?

 The “Blackbird” performance I chose to do for my talent segment was a nod of acknowledgment and gratitude to one of my mentors, David Marquez, a Los Angeles native. I’ve learned so much from him ever since I was about eleven years old. I remember I took David’s class at Broadway Dance Center on one of my first trips to NYC, and this “Blackbird” number was the first thing I learned from him. I connect to the simplicity and slight sensuality of the movement. It holds a special place in my heart and I hope I made him proud.

How important was it to you that the Broadway Beauty Pageant benefitted the Ali Forney Center, New York’s primary housing resource for homeless LGBT youth?

It was very important to me. Most of my charity work benefits organizations like Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS or Dancers Responding To AIDS. So this pageant really educated me about the incredible work the Ali Forney Center does for the displaced and struggling LGBT youth in our community. I was very proud and honored to be a part of a unique evening of entertainment that raised awareness of this wonderful organization. Let’s help them go national!

Though you lost the competition to Mr. Chicago, you were chosen’s Broadway Hero of the Month for March of 2011. Can you talk a bit about that title and what it meant to you to be awarded it?

Michael Cavanaugh interviews Matt for

I was honored to be titled a Broadway Hero for Michael Cavanaugh does a fabulous job of nurturing that site with links to all kinds of means of support for the gay community as well as exclusive coverage of events and Broadway buzz. Being a Broadway Hero means that we’re here for the community whether it be for advice, a friend or whatever. I guess through our careers, people look up to us and we just want people to know that we’re there to listen and support.

You’ve been primarily a dancer up till now. Do you see yourself branching out into other fields or types of roles as a performer, moving into choreography, or teaching? 

Well, this is only the beginning and I see it all happening. I plan to ride the ride for as long as I’m supposed to. I would love to continue tackling roles that people wouldn’t necessarily see me in. I’ve got one down and many to go. Of course I want to see my name above the title and be the celebrity that I know I can be. I love teaching, so I will surely continue doing that. TV and film would be really nice so I can continue to climb the ladder of success and round out my career. I’d like to share my gift with as many people as possible. I just have to keep myself open to the endless possibilities in front of me.

Thanks so much Matt. I’m looking forward to Opening Night and getting to say “Hi” to you and to Cathy Newman (a past StageSceneLA interviewee) at the stage door after the show!

Thank you, Steven!

La Cage Aux Folles plays at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. July 24 through August 7. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 7:30. Saturdays at 2:00 and 7:30. Sundays at 1:00 and 6:30. Reservations: 714 556-2787 or click on:
La Cage Aux Folles Tickets

La Cage Aux Folles production stills by Paul Kolnik
Broadway Beauty Pageant photos by Kevin Thomas Garcia

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