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Happy Anniversary Act One Finales

Act One Finales: 15 Powerful "I Am What I Am"'s from Jerry Herman's Breathtaking La Cage aux Folles

August 21st, 2020 by

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Act One Finales: 15 Powerful "I Am What I Am"'s from Jerry …

Photo by Alastair Muir

We love a big Broadway Act One Finale and it's time to spiral with our marvelous "Act One Finales" series here at BroadwayBox! You might find performances from productions, your favorite cabaret venue, benefits, you name it! We want to celebrate those incredible numbers that leave you breathlesssly wanting more right before the intermission lights come up.

Act One Finale: "I Am What I Am" from La Cage aux Folles, by Jerry Herman/p>

Jerry Herman wrote such an inspiring tune to close out the first act of his critically acclaimed musical La Cage Aux Folles. The spectacular musical is set in St. Tropez where we meet gay couple Georges and Albin. Throughout the first act, audiences learn that Georges is struggling with his engaged son Jean-Michel who would like to introduce his love Anne's conservative family to his own father but not Albin who is a drag queen star. This song is Albin's heartfelt and honest response to Georges.

There were so many marvelous covers to select that we included as many as we could - each performance so powerful and unique. We must quote the late Gary Beach who played Albin in the first Broadway revival of the show when describing this song at a Jerry Herman benefit. "1983. August. New York City. The stage of the Palace Theatre. The leading man, Mr. George Hearn walked downstage center - oh I forgot to say, he was wearing a wig, an evening gown and heels. He sang a song that by the end of the song, it wasn't just a song anymore - it was an anthem."

George Hearn

Our Tony winning original Broadway Albin in a goosebump worthy version

Gary Beach

The first Broadway revival Albin from 2004 - that speech before...

Douglas Hodge

Our second Broadway revival Albin won an Olivier for his role of Albin in the West End and the Tony on Broadway

Gloria Gaynor

The cover starts out legit and then SURPRISE! Disco fantastic!

John Barrowman

The West End and Doctor Who star delivers a stirring rendition

Ginger Minj

Yup, we have goosebumps! So moving to see Ginger perform the tune for the musical's book writer Harvey Fierstein on the "RuPaul All Stars 2" stage

Jennifer Holliday

Jennifer absolutely exudes passion and power in this magnificent cover

Yurel Echezarreta

The Moulin Rouge! cast member has such an awesome voice - what a standout!

Beth Leavel

Our The Prom queen performed Albin's tune as part of her showstopping Broadway Bucket List

Mason Alexander Park

This Hedwig and the Angry Inch tour alum's perf is a-mazing. The commitment, the costumes, the vocals - yes.

Shirley Bassey

Wow wow wow does this song go to another level when Shirley lends her oustanding talent to the tune

Walter Charles

Walter starred in the original cast of the show's national tour and replaced George Hearn in the original Broadway company as Albin. This moving perf was from the Grammys!

Ethan Le Phong

The Aladdin and Miss Saigon alum is wonderful on this soaring performance - that ending!

Shawna Hamic

The Last Ship company member performed the tune as an incredible finale in BC/EFA's Broadway Backwards 2012.

John Partridge

You'll remember this Albin from when he was a curious cat in the 1998 Cats film as Rum Tum Tugger. This music video is awesome.