It opens on 30 October 2008 (previews from 20 October) at the Playhouse Theatre, where Douglas Hodge will reprise his performance as drag queen Albin, newly joined by actor-director Denis Lawson, who returns to the West End stage after a long absence to take over from Philip Quast (pictured with Hodge) as Albin’s lover Georges.
The production is being reconceived by director Terry Johnson for the Playhouse, where it’s booking for a limited season to 10 January 2009, with cabaret-style seating available at the front of the stalls for audience members over 18 years of age.
After a rocky start due to multiple cast illnesses, La Cage Aux Folles ran at the Menier from 9 January 2008 (previews from 27 November 2007) to 8 March 2008. In the West End, it’s choreographed by Lynne Page and designed by Tim Shortall, 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.
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, his star attraction - and the adventures that ensue when Georges\' son Jean-Michel brings home his fiancée\'s ultra-conservative parents to meet them. Further West End casting has not yet been confirmed.
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.
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. In London, it had a run at the London Palladium in 1986. The stage show also inspired the 1996 Hollywood film The Birdcage, which relocated the action to Miami where Nathan Lane and Robin Williams starred.
La Cage Aux Folles is presented in the West End by Chocolate Factory Productions, Sonia Friedman Productions, David Ian Productions, Tulchin/Bartner, the Ambassador Theatre Group and Jamie Hendry. Currently at the Playhouse, Theatre Royal Stratford East’s screen-to-stage reggae musical The Harder They Come closes on 13 September (See News, 31 Jul 2008).
- by Terri Paddock
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