Thursday, 18 October 2012
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: ELAINE PAIGE
ELAINE PAIGE OBE is best known for her work in musical theatre. She made her West End debut in Hair at the age of 20. Ten years later, her award-winning role as Eva Peron in Evita won her critical acclaim. Currently, she presents Elaine Paige On SunWhat are you working on at the moment?
Promoting my live DVD, which was fi lmed in Sydney, and I'm about to do a concert tour of Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. When I return I will perform in concert for the Prince's Trust on 27 November with Ruthie Henshall and the City of London Sinfonia.
When were you at your happiest?
I'm happy. I have a wonderful career; to be allowed to do something I love is more than I could ever have hoped for. I also have great friends, which is incredibly important.
What is your greatest fear?
Dying. I know we all have to go at some point, but I've still got lots to do, so I don't want to go just yet... please.
What is your earliest memory?
Spending hours in front of the mirror singing, dancing and pretending I was wearing a 'sequined ballroom dress'. The whole family at that time were huge fans of Come Dancing.
Who has been your greatest influence?
My parents. Music was in the family – my mother loved to sing and my father was a drummer in a band so all the great crooners were played at home – Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Andy Williams – along with the jazz musicians Buddy Rich, Count Basie and Gene Krupa. My parents helped me to discover lots of great artists.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Everyone would expect me to say my height, but if Eva Peron hadn't been 5ft 2in, then I might not be talking to you now.
What is your most treasured possession?
My mother was a milliner and had a hat shop in Barnet. To this day I can't pass a hat shop without trying on a few and coming out with at least one. I still have one of my mother's hats and it's a very treasured possession.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
Dishonesty. It's always best to tell the truth. If you don't, it'll come back and catch you out.
Do you have a fantasy address?
Somewhere warm and sunny – like the Maldives or Mustique, but then again I love cities so it could be New York or here in London. As long as there's a tennis court... oh, so maybe Centre Court, Wimbledon.
What is your all-time favourite book?
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It's a fantastic, timeless classic.
What is your favourite film?
Now Voyager, starring the great Bette Davis. It's one of her best movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It's a wonderful, romantic weepie, with some great acting.
Your favourite record or piece of music?
That's such a difficult question to answer, as music fills my life. Usually it's the piece of music I'm working on at the time; recently it was Follies by Stephen Sondheim. I have a very scratchy recording of my father singing Irving Berlin's Blue Skies, so maybe if I had to choose, it would be that.
Your favourite meal?
Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Charles Dickens. I love his work and I've just finished reading a biography by Claire Tomalin, which was excellent, so I would love to be able to sit and chat to him.
Which historical character do you most admire?
Elizabeth I – a formidable woman. To have been so strong in what was then a man's world was incredible.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
When I told my headmistress that I wanted to be a professional tennis player she looked at me over her desk and said, 'But Elaine dear, you are too short. You can't even see over the net.' I was devastated.
Do you believe in aliens?
No. Show me one and maybe then I'll believe.
What is your secret vice?
A glass of wine and good food.
Do you write thank-you notes?
Absolutely. I was taught at an early age that you always write them.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
Like everyone else in theatre, probably 'darling'. Secretly it's because we meet so many people in our business, change jobs so frequently, it's sometimes hard to remember names, so this affectionate term helps.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Constant sunshine and warm weather in London. I hate the cold and the rain. This summer has been disastrous.
What would you like your epitaph to say?
Game, set and match.
Elaine Paige: Celebrating A Life On Stage, £15.99, is available from www.wienerworld.com
Daily tip from the lady archive
“HEAVEN forbid that we should go back to the days when beauty was under suspicion and plain girls were assumed to have angelic natures.”The Lady. With Prejudice. 28th April 1938