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BWW INTERVIEWS: Douglas Hodge, The Olivier Award-Winning Star Of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES

Hi, Doug, and welcome to BWW:UK. What's it like being back in the dresses?

Thanks! It's quite a shock. It's strangely familiar and yet unfamiliar. The corset has been the biggest shock. I found out that the others [the other actors who have played Albin in the past year] didn't bother with the corset, but for the sake of my vanity, I'm going to suffer! It means you're always short of breath and you have to snatch a breath where you can. And it's lovely to be back to close the show. I have a big affection for it, and I'm really looking forward to taking it to Broadway.

And of course you're back with Denis Lawson as your Georges.

I don't think I'd have done it without Denis. But we've just slotted straight in. He's so good. And this is all about chemistry.

Is it strange coming back to the show after a year's gap?

It is quite odd. I think about the fact that there's been a year in between and wonder, "What have I actually done?" My father died this year, so it's been a strange, dark corridor.

I remember that was just before the Oliviers - when I saw you in the press room after you picked up your award, I felt so sad for you.

He died the night before the Oliviers, and it was totally unexpected. Those things take time to deal with. Now, coming back to where I was, you're aware of the time that's passed in between. And he was very unsure about me being in La Cage at first! But since leaving the show I've been recording, directing, and even acted in a Russell Crowe movie.

Do you feel some pressure coming back to a role where you got such critical acclaim first time round?

Yeah, I do a bit. People's memories might improve my performance! And there's a new cast now, and I just think I've really got to nail it, otherwise they'll be wondering what all the fuss is about. Whenever you originate a role, it's like Chinese whispers - people talk about what you were like, and bits of business that you did get handed down to the next actor. It was the same with Guys and Dolls; I originated that in the latest production, and Patrick Swayze and Don Johnson and others all did it later, and it was recently on in Sydney and people were saying, "He's still doing that bit of business with the hat that you did!" It's like a ghost of your old version coming back to haunt you.

When do you go over to Broadway?

I leave on March 1st, and we open in mid-April. It's high pressure. This is an American show. They own this, and I'll be playing it. It's extraordinary. I'll be the only Englishman there, in a completely new cast.

The last Broadway production of La Cage was a big deal, by all accounts - high budget and so on. Some of the comments I've read from American theatregoers seem to imply that they're not sure about seeing La Cage done on a smaller, more intimate scale.

Yes. But the last Broadway production wasn't really a success. And there's twitter now about whether this will work. But I see La Cage as like the Kit-Kat Club [in Cabaret] - a place where the standard isn't that high. It's like The Entertainer. If it's high budget, it makes a nonsense of it. This place and these acts aren't the talk of the town; they're on The Edge of legality. Zaza is a legend in his own lunctime. I see 'camp' as a suit of armour; the more fragile you are, the more camp you are to stop people coming near you. It'll be like being Quentin Crisp!

There are rumours that Kelsey Grammer is going to be your Georges on Broadway. Can you confirm that?

I know who my Georges is, but I can't tell you. If I did I'd have to kill you. I was told yesterday [Tuesday 24th November] but they've got to do his deal yet. But it's thrilling, very exciting, and I'm totally cockahoop!

And when do you start your London run?

We begin on Monday for a five-week run, but there's talk about this production going on a UK tour. So look out for it!

Douglas Hodge stars in La Cage Aux Folles at The Playhouse Theatre from Monday November 30th before moving to Broadway for the production's transfer.

From This Author - Carrie Dunn