The Menier Chocolate Factory production of Jerry Herman’s 1983 Broadway musical comedy La Cage Aux Folles transferred to the Playhouse last night (30 October 2008, previews from 20 October), where it's currently booking until 10 January 2009. The production has been specially reconceived for the larger venue by director Terry Johnson, with cabaret-style seating available at the front of the stalls for audience members over 18 years of age (See News, 29 Aug 2008).

Based on the 1973 French play by Jean Poiret and subsequent 1978 French-Italian screen version, La Cage Aux Folles 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.

Douglas Hodge reprises 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 as Albin’s lover Georges. Other new cast members include Tracie Bennett (Hairspray) as Jacqueline and Paula Wilcox as Mme Renaud / Mme Dindon (See News, 1 Oct 2008).

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.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF LA CAGE AUX FOLLES' 1st NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.
PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the curtain call and post-show party at the National Gallery Cafe, along with the company and other guests including Stephen Poliakoff, Craig Revel Horwood, Talulah Riley, Nicole Faraday, Samantha Bond, Hannah Waddingham, Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton.

The company, many of whom were involved in the run last Christmas at the Menier, is completed by Jason Pennycooke, Iain Mitchell, Alicia Davies, Stuart Neal, Robert Maskell, Leanne Harwood, Nolan Frederick, Zoe Ann Bown, Ben Bunce, Darren Carnall, Nicholas Cuningham, Ben Deery, Adrian Der Gregorian, Matt Krzan, Gary Murphy, Dane Quixall, Duncan Smith and Scott Speadbury.

- By Theo Bosanquet