La Cage wins Best Musical Revival

Reporter: Duncan Sweetland, first published Sun 08 Mar 2009 21:45
David Babani, Sonia Friedman and Terry Johnson pick up the award on behalf of La Cage Aux Folles for Best Musical Revival. /servlet/file/store5/item104679/version3/fileservice770/104679_770_preview.jpg

La Cage Aux Folles has triumphed over Piaf, Sunset Boulevard and West Side Story to win Best Musical Revival at this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards.

The musical, which opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory before transferring to the West End last October, centres on the lives of Georges, owner of cabaret club La Cage Aux Folles, and his drag artiste partner Albin. When Georges's son announces his engagement, the couple are forced to make drastic lifestyle changes when the conservative future in-laws decide to pay a visit. Originally starring Douglas Hodge and Denis Lawson, the couple are currently played by Steven Pacey and Graham Norton, the comedian and TV presenter who is making his West End debut in the production. They share the stage with West End stars Tracie Bennett and Paula Wilcox.

Director Terry Johnson collected the award from presenter Jason Donovan - soon to be seen in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical - along with David Babani, Artistic Director of the Menier Chocolate Factory, and producer Sonia Friedman. "It started off very hard, it’s a very hard show, and then it suddenly went really good and got better and better," Johnson told Official London Theatre. "It rolls on, and everybody that comes along lifts it and pushes it forwards."

Babani, who has just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Chocolate Factory, added: "Oh it’s fantastic, it's really exciting, very welcome and a huge honour. It’s a great show and it didn’t really get recognised the first time around so it's been brilliant, we’ve been lucky enough to get recognised."

La Cage Aux Folles originally premiered in 1983 in New York, where it won six Tony Awards and became one of the most popular Broadway musicals of the decade. Revived at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the production at first struggled with problems as Hodge was taken ill with a chest infection for much of the rehearsal and preview period. However, the show opened to rave reviews both at the Menier and when it later transferred to the West End’s Playhouse theatre.

The production, which features songs such as I Am What I Am, The Best Of Times and Song On The Sand, has music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, a book by Harvey Fierstein and is based on the play by Jean Poiret.

La Cage Aux Folles is currently booking until 26 September 2009 at the Playhouse theatre.