As previously tipped (See The Goss, 24 Jul 2007), the Menier Chocolate Factory will continue its Christmas tradition of major revivals of classic Broadway musicals this year with Jerry Herman’s La Cage Aux Folles. West End veteran Terry Johnson will direct the new production of the 1983 musical comedy, which opens 3 December 2007 (previews from 23 November) and continues in Southwark until 8 March 2008.

Based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret and subsequent 1978 French-Italian screen version, the musical focuses on a gay couple - George, the manager of a St Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his star attraction - and the adventures that ensue when George's son brings home his fiancée's ultra-conservative parents to meet them.

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 musical had a West End run at the London Palladium in 1986 – coinciding with a time when AIDS was just starting to hit the headlines in the UK – but closed after just six months. On Broadway, La Cage Aux Folles clocked up over 1,500 performances in its premiere season – when it also won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score - and had a brief revival in 2004. The stage show also inspired the 1996 Hollywood film The Birdcage, which relocated the action to Miami where Nathan Lane and Robin Williams starred.

The Menier revival will be directed by playwright-director Terry Johnson, whose recent credits include Whipping It Up, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and his own plays Piano/Forte and Hitchcock Blonde. The production is designed by David Farley (who won a hat trick of Best Designer honours – Olivier, Critics’ Circle and Evening Standard – for the Menier revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George) and choreographed by Lynne Page.

Farley and Page also worked on the theatre’s last Christmas revival of fellow Broadway musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors, now finishing its West End season at the Ambassadors Theatre (See News, 15 Aug 2007). The Menier’s Christmas revival the year before, Sunday in the Park with George, also transferred to the West End, winning five Oliviers in the process, and opens at Broadway’s Studio 54 in the new year.

The La Cage Aux Folles creative team at the Menier is completed by lighting designer David Howe, musical supervisor Gareth Valentine and musical director Nigel Lilley. The show is presented by David Babani for Chocolate Factory Productions.

Currently at the 150-seat Menier Chocolate Factory is Take Flight, the world premiere musical from Broadway veterans Richard Maltby Jr, David Shire and John Weidman, which finishes on 22 September 2007. It’s followed by Samuel West’s revival of Patrick Marber’s debut play Dealer's Choice, running from 3 October (previews from 27 September) to 17 November (See News, 1 Jun 2007).

- by Terri Paddock

NOTE: Booking for La Cage aux Folles opens on Tuesday 4 September 2007.