The First Lady of the British Musical Theater,
Elaine Paige, is so popular that she will give a second concert on December 21
and says she wants to make sure the audience has a good time, writes Michelle
Everything runs faster in China, and the popularity of musicals is spreading
fast too. Shanghai audiences only saw their first live Broadway musical, "Les
Miserables," at the Shanghai Grand Theater in 2002.
Four years later the concert of British musical diva Elaine Paige on December
20 is selling so well that the organizer is adding an extra show the next day to
"I'll be singing a selection of songs that I think will appeal to the
audience in Shanghai," says Paige, who lent her costumes for an exhibition in
Shanghai in August.
She will sing highlights from her musical theater career such as "Don't Cry
For Me Argentina" from "Evita," "Memory" from "Cats" that many people know and
love; "Je Ne Regrette Rien" and "If You Loved Me" from the musical "Piaf" about
the life of the great French singer Edith Piaf, and "I Know Him So Well" from
the musical "Chess," which was a No. 1 hit for Paige and Barbara Dickson.
Yesterday, at her pre-concert press conference in Shanghai, Paige
surprisingly, in her own word, received a gift - a chess made of tea leaves -
from her Chinese fans, for her excellent performance in "Chess."
Paige was chosen by Hal Prince in 1978 to create the role of Eva Peron in the
original production of "Evita" and she went on to sweep the boards with her
award-winning performance in London's West End. In 1981 she starred in "Cats"
when she played Grizabella in the original London production and thereby became
the first actress to perform the classic song "Memory," one of her many hits.
She won the title "The First Lady of British Musical Theater" and revisited this
role in the television film and video of "Cats" in 1998.
"There is a story behind each song and I always like to perform my own
interpretation of the song, the story and the character for instance, there is
tragedy and excitement in the characters of Eva Peron, Norma Desmond and Edith
Piaf, which is half the pleasure of performing such dramatic roles.
"But you can also find joy and laughter and happiness in many of the songs,"
says the diva, who has recently released a new album, "Essential Musicals," of
her best-loved songs.
However, musical is not her choice at the very beginning. "I once wanted to
be a tennis player or an interior designer," say the musical diva.
"I love it all - performing in concert. You have to be on your toes all the
time and give the performance 110 percent of your energy and commitment. I
suppose there's slightly more leeway with a live concert because you're in
charge and you can slow the show down or quicken it up if you want to, plus
you've got time to chat to the audience," she adds. "When you're onstage, it's a
combined responsibility to entertain the audience and make sure they have a good
But before each performance, "protecting the voice is crucial," says Paige.
"I usually drink lemon honey water and do not speak much."
Paige visited Shanghai for the first time when traveling with "The Music of
Andrew Lloyd Webber" in 2001.
"I am really looking forward to returning to the stimulating, interesting and
vibrant city again," says Paige. "I love shopping in China and the last time I
visited Beijing I managed to find a few pairs of lovely shoes - I have quite
small feet so that was a successful shopping experience!
"I'm also quite a collector of interesting pieces of art, artifacts and
fabrics from around the world, so I'm looking forward to doing some shopping in
Shanghai and visiting one or two art galleries as well," Paige reveals.
Date: December 20-21, 7:30pm
Address: Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, 425
Dingxiang Rd, Pudong
Tickets: 100-1,500 yuan