Georges is the master of ceremonies, and his lover Albin stars as the flamboyant Zaza, at their St. Tropez drag nightclub, “La Cage aux Folles”. At the club, the chorus line is known as Les Cagelles. Georges and Albin have lived happily together for many years with their “maid” Jacob. Georges' 20-year-old son Jean-Michel (the offspring of a confused, youthful liaison with a woman named Sybil) arrives home with the news that he is engaged to Anne Dindon. Unfortunately, her father is head of the “Tradition, Family and Morality Party”, whose stated goal is to close the local drag clubs. Anne's parents want to meet their daughter's future in-laws. Jean-Michel has lied to his fiancée, describing Georges as a retired diplomat. Jean-Michel pleads with Albin to absent himself (and his flamboyantly gay behaviors) for the visit - and for Georges to redecorate the apartment in a more subdued fashion. He will invite Sybil, who has barely seen him since his birth, to dinner in Albin's stead. Albin's feelings are hurt – he has been a good “mother”. He departs in a huff.
The next morning, Georges suggests to Albin that he dress up as macho “Uncle Al”. Back at the chastely redesigned apartment, Georges receives a telegram that Jean-Michel's mother Sybil is not coming, and Anne's parents arrive. Hoping to save the day, Albin appears as Jean-Michel's buxom, forty-year-old mother, in pearls and sensible shoes. The nervous Jacob burns the dinner, so a trip to a local restaurant, Chez Jacqueline, belonging to an old friend of Albin and Georges, is quickly arranged. No one has briefed Jacqueline on the situation, and she asks Albin for a song. As Zaza, Albin yields to the frenzy of performance and tears off his wig at the song's climax, revealing his true identity.
Back at the apartment, the Dindons plead with their daughter to abandon her fiancé, but she is in love with Jean-Michel and refuses to leave him. Jean-Michel, deeply ashamed of the way he has treated Albin, asks his forgiveness, which is lovingly granted. The Dindons prepare to depart, but their way is blocked by Jacqueline, who has arrived with the press, ready to photograph these notorious anti-homosexual activists with Zaza. Georges and Albin have a proposal: If Anne and Jean-Michel may marry, Georges will help the Dindons escape through La Cage aux Folles next door. The Dindons do so, dressed in drag as members of the nightclub's revue, and all ends well.
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