Originally due to open on 3 December 2007 (previews from 23 November), La Cage’s first press night was cancelled after rehearsals were thrown into disarray because of flu running rampant through the company. A second press night arranged for 13 December was then axed as star Douglas Hodge continued to recover from a serious chest infection (See News, 28 Nov 2007).
Based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret and subsequent 1978 French-Italian screen version, the musical focuses on a gay couple – Georges (played by Philip Quast), the manager of a St Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his star attraction (Douglas Hodge) - and the adventures that ensue when Georges' son Jean-Michel brings home his fiancée's ultra-conservative parents to meet them.
In addition to Quast and Hodge, the 17-strong cast features Neil McDermott, Alicia Davies, Jason Pennycooke, Iain Mitchell and Una Stubbs. La Cage Aux Folles is directed by Terry Johnson and designed by David Farley, with costumes by Matthew Wright, lighting by David Howe, orchestration by Jason Carr and musical direction by Nigel Lilley.
Did first night critics think the revival was worth the wait? “You betcha” declared Whatsonstage.com’s Michael Coveney, with the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer echoing Coveney’s sentiments and predicting a quick transfer. However, elsewhere verdicts were more mixed. Philip Quast was praised for his “fine singing voice” by some, but others described his performance as wooden, while Douglas Hodge as Albin either went on a “dazzling journey” or settled for “flouncing, flaunting grotesqueries”. The Cagelles won admiration all round, particularly for their high-kicking dance numbers within the confines of the intimate Menier stage.
- by Tom Atkins