A SPECTACULAR performance of a beloved musical brought the house down on its first night at the Alhambra Theatre.

La Cage Aux Folles began its five day run at the theatre yesterday, with an opening night that brought the audience to its feet and had them clapping along and howling with laughter throughout.

Considered one of the finest modern musicals, the long running play has been adapted to the big screen as well as being performed on stages across the world.

This version of the farce stars former Eastenders star John Partridge as Albin, the flamboyant drag queen and star of French drag cabaret club Le Cage Aux Folles. His relationship with club owner Georges, played by TJ Hooker star Adrian Zmed, is put to the test when their son Jean Michelle announces that he is soon to marry the daughter of a hard line conservative politician with an aversion to homosexuals.

The family's subsequent efforts to hide the relationship, and the couple's flamboyant lifestyle, from these future in-laws make up much of the plot.

The most impressive part of the production is arguably its ability to mix the broad, saucy comedy that makes up much of the show, especially the scenes in the titular club, with genuine emotion and the way issues like belonging and self identity. Although some of the biggest audience reactions were to the more outrageous jokes and comedic scenes, arguably the biggest cheer was for Partridge's heartfelt performance of the play's signature song I am What I Am, a scene where he opens up about prejudice and acceptance.

Another strong point of the production is how it involves the audience - when the plot shifts to the cabaret scenes the fourth wall is broken and the audience is pulled into the story, as guests of Le Cage Aux Folles. The is especially true for a scene where Partridge ad libs with the crowd for an entire scene.

The opening night performance saw him chide the audience for their dressed down, "Per Una" wardrobes, and even take a dig at The Alhambra itself, and the fact that the main banner outside the theatre is advertising Beautiful, an upcoming Carol King musical, rather than this musical.

"You won't get that in Beautiful" chirps Partridge after one particularly bawdy joke.

Although the whole cast played their roles to perfection, Partridge's performance was a tour de force. Completely dominating every scene he was in, he effectively played two characters, Albin and ZaZA, his drag alter ego. Although playing the role as broad, flamboyant and completely over the top, it never felt like his character was one dimensional caricature, he found real pathos and emotion in Albin, particularly impressive when caked in make up, covered in feathers and glitter and wearing a corset.

Going through costume changes seemingly every few minutes, as well as taking part in elaborate dance numbers, he must have been exhausted by the time the cast took their bows, which were greeted by a standing ovation.

La Cage Aux Folles runs at the Alhambra until Saturday. To buy tickets visit bradford-theatres.co.uk/whats-on