The First Lady of Musical Theatre, Elaine Paige will be holding court at Sage Gateshead as part of her latest tour.
With some of the greatest leading lady roles, and 22 solo albums under her belt, including four multi-platinum and nine gold, choosing tracks to feature in just one set is no mean feat.
So Elaine has gone back to her roots to cherry pick songs that inspired her on the road to stardom, as well as the hits with which she is inextricably linked, such as Memory and I Know Him So Well.
The award-winning actress, singer and broadcaster, who has performed in concert across the globe, from The White House to The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, will be showcasing those sounds at the Gateshead venue on November 15.
She explained: “It’s a new show that I put together last year. It went down very well so I thought I’d do it again.
“It features music from a period in my life when I was a young girl just starting out, it’s about the writers I listened to as a young girl, people like Carley Simon, Paul Simon, Carole King and The Beatles. It’s the kind of songs I like singing and the ones that suit my voice, mixed in with some favourites from my career.
“I think it’s important to talk about writers, especially lyricists, because often people don’t know who’s written the songs.
“There’s such a wealth of material to choose from, the likes of Gershwin and Rodgers and Hammerstein. As an artist, you want new challenges, you can’t keep singing the same songs. But I do my signature tunes too, the ones I’m known for, as I know that’s what people will want. But it’s important to keep it fresh for yourself.”
The hits will be punctuated with anecdotes from Elaine’s career, which has seen her star in more smash hit West End and Broadway musicals than anyone else of her generation.
She said: “In between all the wonderful songs, I tell stories and anecdotes about my career. It’s a very intimate, relaxed evening, a bit like my radio show.”
Speaking about her standout moments, she said: “Evita will always be the role for which I am remembered.
“It was a fantastic role and one I originated, which is always an exciting thing to do. It had this fantastic Andrew Lloyd Webber score and a story of Evita which people hadn’t heard. It had everything you could ask for as an actor.
“Playing Norma Desmond (in Sunset Boulevard) was equally thrilling.
“It was a fantastic role which took me to Broadway, something I’d waited 22 years for. I’ve been fortunate to play some amazing women, such as Edith Piaf in Piaf (a West End play).
“It started as a play with only snippets of songs, but because I could sing the songs were extended and it became like my Hamlet.
“I’ve been fortunate to play major leading lady roles, but I’ve missed out on those traditional American roles, such as Eliza Dolittle (My Fair Lady), but you can’t have it all.”
Musicals are still a major part of Elaine’s life. She presents a successful weekly BBC Radio 2 programme, called Elaine Paige on Sunday, which celebrates the best of Broadway, Hollywood and the West End, which reels in more than 2.5 million listeners each week.
“For my radio show I often go to the theatre and talk about it on the show,” she said.
“There’s some great talent in musicals today who are full of energy. They are the triple threat: they can sing, act and dance. I recently went to see The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and 3/4, which was absolutely excellent, I loved it. Sometimes I get pangs when I watch shows like that and I want to be up there myself, but I think those days are long gone.”
Speaking about what advice she’d give to rising stars, she said: “I think today the industry is even more over-crowded, there’s always so many people up for one job. There always was, nothing’s changed there.
“But the major difference is you don’t have to be an Equity member to audition, so it’s not a closed shop.
“The advice I would give is that your heart has to be in it, You have to work very hard, do your homework and get an agent. And, of course, go to drama school so you can learn your craft.
“Not everyone can sing, dance and act, but being able to do all three things will give you more opportunities, so it’s good to cover all three bases and be dedicated to it.”
•Elaine Paige is at Sage Gateshead on November 15. Tickets from 0191 443 4661.
•We have a pair of tickets to give away to see Elaine Paige at Sage Gateshead on Wednesday, November 15, at 7.30pm.
To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: Which of these musical songs did Elaine make famous?
B) Defying Gravity
C) With You
To be in with a chance of winning the tickets to see Elaine Paige, send your answer and contact details on a postcard to Elaine Paige Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, DH4 5RA.
Alternatively, you can email your answer to the question and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk
Entries, via post or email, will need to be received by Friday, August 25.
There is no cash alternative for the prize and tickets are only eligible for the Sage Gateshead date of Elaine’s tour.