After 50 years in show business, Elaine Paige, one of Britain’s most loved classical singers is bidding adieu with a farewell tour across the UK next year.
The First Lady of Musical Theatre was born and raised in north London, where as a teenager Elaine Bickerstaff (as she was known before changing her name) heard the soundtrack to West Side Story and like many before (and after her) realised that a career in musical theatre was where her heart belonged.
Despite a career that has spawned 50 years, Elaine continues to sound (and look) as youthful as she did when she made her West End debut in Hair at the tender age of 20. Over the years she has played everyone from Eva Peron in Evita, for which she won the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Musical, to Grizabella in the original production of Cats, for which she is still asked to perform the legendary song Memory today, to her performance as Florence alongside Barbara Dickinson in Chess, featuring the record breaking number one hit, I Know Him So Well, which still holds the record for the biggest-selling record by a female duo.
In 1995 she was appointed an OBE for her contribution to musical theatre. During the same year the singer and actress was performing in Lloyd Webber’s West End production of Sunset Boulevard, she discovered a lump which turned out to be cancerous. The actress has rarely spoken about her battle with breast cancer, going into hospital to undergo surgery on a Sunday, as this was her only day off from the show. She has subsequently said that facing her own mortality changed her profoundly. “You’ve just got to get on with it, grit your teeth and think, ‘Right, I’m going to beat this.” (Daily Mail)
Now 50 years on, Elaine’s theatre productions include some of the biggest West End and Broadway shows, such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Billy, Anything Goes, Piaf, The King and I, Sweeney Todd and most recently, Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.
Whether inspirational to her fans through her music or as a role model, Elaine’s honest take on life, determination (she was relatively unknown and 30 years old when she won the role as Evita) and her stunning vocals mean it will be a sad loss to theatre stages the world over when she finally hangs up her hat. We know the ‘memories’ will last a lifetime and that her farewell tour will encompass her monumental career. With songs from the world of musical theatre and her hugely successful recording catalogue, there will be something for everyone when she takes to the stage for the last time across the UK in October 2014.
Check out Elaine Paige’s versions of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ below:
Elaine Paige is on tour across the UK in October 2014:
Thursday 09 Cardiff St David’s Hall#
Saturday 11 Bristol Colston Hall
Sunday 12 Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Tuesday 14 Gateshead Sage 1
Wednesday 15 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Friday 17 Birmingham Symphony Hall
Saturday 18 Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre
Wednesday 22 Brighton Dome
Elaine Paige will also be performing with special guests and the BBC Concert Orchestra on:
Monday 20 October London Royal Albert Hall