Thursday, 26 February 2009

Elaine Paige - Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Elaine Paige: Celebrating 40 Years on Stage
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Musical Director: Chris Egan
Reviewer: Ian Cain

Only a handful of musical theatre performers make such an outstanding and long-lasting contribution to the genre that they survive in the profession long enough to celebrate forty years of performing, but that’s exactly what the sensational Elaine Paige is doing.

The queen of the musical stage is marking her Ruby anniversary with a month-long national tour and packing the punters in.

Surprisingly, Miss Paige was a little weak to begin with as she performed a selection of numbers from her early days. However, it didn’t take long for her to break into her stride and start belting.

At almost 61, Paige still looks stunning and in a silver three-quarter length jacket and black trousers she was a picture of understated elegance.

Giving numbers such as Tomorrow, Broadway Baby and Hey, Mr Producer that inimitable touch of Paige perfection, she used the songs to chronicle events in her life and threw in a sprinkling of anecdotes for good measure.

The self-deprecating pint-sized performer poked fun at her lack of height with a song that was written especially for her, by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, entitled Small Packages. She also revealed that, early in her career,
she was often passed over for roles because she was deemed to be too short.

The concert comprises twenty five numbers but, obviously, the audience have primarily come to hear her sing those showstoppers that she is famous for. The first half of the concert contains a rendition of I Don’t Know How To Love Him from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and culminates in a breathtaking performance of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from ‘Evita.’

The second part of the evening commences with the superb six-piece band, under the Musical Direction of Chris Egan, playing a ‘Sunset Boulevard’ overture. Then, suddenly, Paige makes her entrance as alter-ego Norma Desmond in her original costume from the Broadway production, complete with turban and sunglasses.

After delivering a sensational rendition of As If We Never Said Goodbye, she takes on the guise of Mrs Lovett to perform By The Sea from ‘Sweeney Todd,’ before donning a black wig and becoming Edith Piaf to treat the audience to The Ballad of Poor Old John, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien and Hymne a L’amour.

The evening was concluded with a spine-tingling performance of Memory from ‘Cats,’ With One Look from ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience.

Elaine Paige is touring throught the country for more information please click here
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