Allam succeeds chat show host Graham Norton, who made his West End debut in La Cage Aux Folles in January and who has extended until 2 May (See News, 27 Nov 2008). The cross-dressing role in Terry Johnson’s multi award-winning revival was originated by Douglas Hodge, who earlier this week won the Best Actor in a Musical Olivier for his performance. Hodge’s original co-star Philip Quast will return to the production to play Albin’s lover Georges (taking over from Steven Pacey) opposite Allam.
Both men start performances at the West End’s Playhouse Theatre on 4 May 2009, ahead of a new press night on 11 May. Tickets for their dates go on sale on 16 March and the production has extended its booking through to 9 January 2010.
Based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret and subsequent 1978 French-Italian screen version, the musical focuses on a gay couple – Georges, the manager of a St Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin/Zaza, his star attraction - and the adventures that ensue when Georges\' son Jean-Michel brings home his fiancée\'s ultra-conservative parents to meet them.
Johnson’s production was first seen over Christmas 2007 at the 150-seat Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, where it ran, with Hodge and Quast, from 9 January to 8 March 2008 (previews from 27 November 2007). It opened at the Playhouse on 30 October 2008 (previews from 20 October). This year, in addition to two Oliviers (the second for Best Musical Revival), La Cage Aux Folles has won two Whatsonstage.com Awards and the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.
Roger Allam’s other musical credits include City of Angels and Les Miserables, in which he originated the role of Javert. A two-time Olivier Award winner (the second being for Money at the National), he’s better known for his play credits at the NT and the RSC, where he’s an associate artist, as well as in the West End. His most recent credits include Boeing Boeing, Afterlife, Blackbird, The Giant and Democracy.
For his part, Australian Philip Quast is a triple Olivier Award winner – having scooped Best Actor in a Musical trophies for Sunday in the Park with George, The Fix and South Pacific. His many other credits include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Stuff Happens, The Secret Garden, Macbeth, White Devil and, most recently in the West End, Evita.
La Cage Aux Folles has a book by Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy) and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, whose other classics include Hello Dolly!, Mame and Mack and Mabel. The score features songs including “I Am What I Am”, “The Best of Times”, “Song on the Sand”, “Masculinity” and the title number.
The revival is directed by Terry Johnson, designed by Tim Shortall and choreographed by Whatsonstage.com Award winner Lynne Page, with costumes by Matthew Wright, wigs and make-up by Richard Mawbey, musical supervision and orchestrations by Jason Carr and musical direction by Nigel Lilley. The current cast also features Paula Wilcox, Jason Pennycooke, Iain Mitchell, Alicia Davies, Stuart Neal and Whatsonstage.com Award winner Tracie Bennett.
- by Terri Paddock