Jeigh Madjus has come a long way baby. I was lucky enough to share his
stage (let’s be honest here) when I was his high school classmate at Etobicoke School of the Arts, so I should know. It was heady time - imagine hallways of chainé-turning boys grabbing their girlfriends and having “pee-parties”. But enough about me.
As much as I trusted little Jeigh Madjus would go far, I could never have predicted that the once cherub-faced World Youth Day backpack-toting teen would blossom into the hard-bodied heel-clad sensation starring in the US tour of La Cage Aux Folles
, now playing at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre until November 18th. Nor that he’d steal the spotlight from some of his powerhouse castmates with his hilarious, catty delivery.
Thanks to the clout of being a writer for Toronto’s premiere gay bi-weekly, I had the chance to take my manfriend to see Jeigh in this most recent incarnation. We were delighted. As feisty man-servant “Jacob” he held his own opposite silver screen legend George Hamilton and breathtaking ingenue Christopher Sieber.
But the most remarkable feat happened almost a year ago, when this cute Canadian moved to NYC and booked a leading role in the first US Broadway tour.
Humble Madjus downplayed the gravity of smashing the glass theatrical ceiling. “I’ve been going since I was 14,” Madjus reminds me, “devoting my life to performing. But I needed the right show and the right opportunity before I could get my foot in the door. It was amazing. It just kind of happened.”
When he was offered a callback, Madjus was so shocked to be asked to go to the next level that he ended up dancing in pajama pants with bare feet. Soon after, he was rehearsing in New York City, preparing for over a year of touring beginning in DesMoines, Iowa, and ending here in Toronto.
I was curious to know what his parents thought of his role in such a big gay musical. Madjus was quick to point out that La Cage
is a “story of family and of acceptance. It’s universal.” But with more glitter, feathers and a string of dancer boys in heels.
His aunt came to see the show when he was in Los Angeles and said the cast contained “the most beautiful, tallest women” she had ever seen. Granted she’s in her 80s, but Madjus feels that’s proof of the power of the story overtaking its flamboyant delivery. His mom, who Madjus says is not typically emotionally engaged by his shows, cried throughout.
What’s next for Jeigh Madjus once the curtain falls November 18th? Check out his on-demand feature film “Servitude”, and his ongoing YouTube series and musical “Prison Dancer”. This is not the last we’ve heard of Jeigh Madjus. — Ryan Kerr
La Cage Aux Folles every Tuesday - Sunday Nov, 18 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre 260 King St W mirvish.com