George Hamilton is as well known for his tan and his liaisons with assorted women as he is for his movie roles over the years. Apparently he should also be known as a man willing to take risks.
Scheduled to speak to Art Attack, Hamilton was apologetically late and then explained he was having his hair cut and colored and that was why the phone interview might be interrupted a bit.
So we started in on why he'd decided to join the national tour of the Tony Award-winning La Cage Aux Folles, coming to Houston coming to the Hobby Center soon courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars in the story of a man, his gay lover and the son they'll do anything for -- including pretending to be straight.
According to Hamilton, he was feeling like "I ought to go back to Broadway; it's always something you need to do every three years," when presented with three plays. His agent pushed La Cage Aux Folles.
"It was an intriguing idea; a little off my usual path," Hamilton said, while periodically asking questions and giving instructions to his hair stylist. ("Are you sure you want to cut that straight across? Aren't you going to feather it?")
He wasn't sure he could sing the score -- his voice coach told him of course he could. He tore his Achilles tendon "in half" right before the national tour (the Broadway show closed before he could join it) and a doctor told him that as a 72-year-old man he had no business onstage but the people behind the tour said no, we'll write around it and they did and he did.
He couldn't believe that no one asked him to audition for the part of Georges. He conferred with the producers again, expressing some misgivings, and they told him, "We'll set it in your key." ("At my age you have to add in the dark color. I don't add in the gray. She is making highlights in my hair even as we speak.")
He went to New York, where he had approval of who'd be with him in the show, and sat in on the auditions. He offered to read with them, and they told him no, he didn't need to. He did think Christopher Sieber stood out in his audition for the part of Albin and told them so. So Sieber, who played Georges on Broadway, plays Albin on tour.
After saying, "The only things I'm interested in doing now are things that scare me," Hamilton said he was going to have to go because they were moving him to have the dye washed out of his hair. He'd call back.
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He finally did the next day and left a charming voice mail message saying he was ready to answer any more questions, was sorry he hadn't called back, but...
"I walked into a strip mall to have a haircut that I'd never been in and this poor girl took the job on and then all of a sudden cut a huge hole in the side of my head. I started to realize that I was in big trouble. So all during our interview, there were people coming to apologize, someone trying to dye it to cover up the hole. The poor girl, I felt so sorry for her because they were about to fire her. They were cutting my hair and cutting her head off at the same time. It was the most interesting bad-hair day for Friday the 13th in a strip mall in Dallas."
Speechless after that, we couldn't think of any more questions. But you can bet when we go to see La Cage, we'll be looking for the extra hole in George Hamilton's head.
The TUTS production of La Cage Aux Folles runs April 24 to May 6 at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For ticket information, call 713-558-8887 or go to www.tuts.com.