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La Cage aux Folles - Broadway

Harvey Fierstein and Jeffrey Tambor star in this freshly reconceived production of the Tony-winning musical.

Choreographer Lynne Page on Her 'Fairytale' Year of Two Broadway Hits and a Tony Nod for La Cage

Choreographer Lynne Page on Her 'Fairytale' Year of Two Broadway Hits and a Tony Nod for La Cage
Lynne Page
I did a lot of waitressing—you should see me pick up four plates.

Age: 40: “You know what they say about ‘life begins at…’”

Hometown: Leicester, England: “Most people drive through it on the way to somewhere else.”

Currently: Savoring a season in which she made her Broadway debut as a choreographer with A Little Night Music, then picked up a Best Choreography Tony nomination for the revival of La Cage aux Folles.

Tony Glory: What’s it like to receive a Tony nomination in the starry company of Rob Ashford [Promises, Promises], Bill T. Jones [Fela!] and Twyla Tharp [Come Fly Away]? “I am humbled and honored,” Page declares. “I have spent many an evening in London watching the Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Company. Fifteen years ago, I saw Twyla Tharp’s 'Sinatra Suite' at the Place Theatre in London. I sat in awe at the work Rob Ashford produced for [the West End production of] Guys and Dolls. Did I ever think that my name would be mentioned in the same sentence as these people? No. It means more to me than I can put into words.”

Born to Dance: Page laughingly says that her mother—who “makes a mean frock and is killer at the foxtrot”—put her in dance class “when I was able to walk. I was one of those kids on the competition circuit in the north of England spending most of my time in a sequined leotard.” The budding performer studied at the London Contemporary dance school and, at 19, at NYC’s Alvin Ailey school, but professional success proved elusive. “Even though I was ‘fierce,’ I was a jigsaw piece that didn’t fit,” she says. “I did a lot of waitressing—you should see me pick up four plates.” Page’s career came into focus when she was tapped to choreograph a German production of Jesus Christ Superstar. “Even though it was hell on earth and I didn’t know what I was doing, I was able to draw from all the different dance styles I had been exposed to,” she says “and the jigsaw piece began to fit.”

From Stage to Screen and Back: When it comes to choreography, Page has done it all, including working with pop bands and creating dance routines for music videos, commercials and TV shows. “It wasn’t till much later, when I met Peter Darling, that I was able to get back into theater,” she says. As an associate to the Tony-winning choreographer, Page worked on the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera and London productions of Billy Elliot, Our House, Candide and Merrily We Roll Along. After tackling Little Shop of Horrors at the tiny Menier Chocolate Factory, she was entrusted with a show largely unknown to London audiences: La Cage aux Folles.

Entering the Birdcage: In director Terry Johnson’s scaled-down production of La Cage, “The task of choreographing was mainly influenced by two things: space, because there wasn’t any [at the Menier Chocolate Factory], and the music,” Page explains. “Jason Carr did some radical re-orchestrations, and it was a wonderful collaborative process to describe what was in my head and for him to play it on the keyboard.” Johnson was determined to convey the truth of backstage life at a drag club. “Therefore, the Cagelles became the reality of the club and not just a dancing ensemble,” says Page. “I learned from Peter Darling to push the narrative in movement, and that fitted very well with what Terry wanted.”

Broadway Times Two: While in rehearsals for the current revival of A Little Night Music, Page “did a little prayer on the sidewalk every night” that La Cage would also make it to Broadway. Asked what she’s enjoyed most about opening two shows on the Great White Way in one season, she ticks off “the talent, creativity, spirit and work ethic of Broadway performers. A poor workman blames his tools, and a good workman excels when he has the best tools in the box. And believe you me, I have the best tools in the box.” On Tony night, look for Page in a gown by Alice Temperley (“glamour with a hint of rock and roll—very me”), pinching herself as she enters Radio City Music Hall. As she puts it, “The whole goddamn thing is like a fairytale."

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