Musical Theatre lovers in the DC area were given a big treat on this past Thursday evening when Elaine Paige made an appearance at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of her first American concert tour. Elaine Paige is considered the ‘First Lady of British Musical Theatre,’ having originated the roles of Eva Peron in Evita (for which she won an Olivier Award), Florence in Chess and Grizabella in Cats, as well as other notable starring roles.
Ms. Paige’s wonderful concert was filled with both stories and musical highlights from her illustrious career, starting early on as a member of the “tribe” in Hair (for which she sang “Easy to Be Hard”) through her very recent appearance as Carlotta in the Broadway revival of Follies (also performed at The Kennedy Center and directed by Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer, who was present at the concert), for which she sang “Broadway Baby”, a different song from the one she sang in the show. Ms. Paige looked wonderful in a stunning red dress and had the audience enraptured throughout the evening.
Highlights of the Birchmere show included “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from Evita, “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard, another iconic show in which she starred in both the West End and Broadway, “I Knew Him So Well” from Chess (she explains how the song was written especially for her), “I Get a Kick Out of You” from Anything Goes (another show she headlined in the West End), “Hello Young Lovers” from The King and I (a revival of which she starred in the West End) and of course, the ubiquitous “Memory” from Cats.
Ms. Paige is not only an extremely talented singer with a full, rich. and powerful voice but also a great storyteller and actress who visibly inhabits each song she sings in her concert, much as she does with the roles she brought to the stage. She demonstrated this talent to the audience time and time again, including a rousing performance of “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” from her acclaimed role as Edith Piaf in Pam Gem’s play, Piaf.
She related some charming tales of her West End and Broadway experiences including an amusing meeting with the Queen Mother (a Cole Porter fan – who knew?) during Ms. Page’s Anything Goes run in the West End, as well as the tale of how she landed the role of Grizabella in Cats (as an eleventh-hour replacement for Judi Dench) and adopted a stray cat on the very night she first heard the song “Memory”…
Let us hope Ms. Paige, who seemed very taken and moved by the enthusiasm of her Birchmere audience, will return to our area soon and delight us once again.
Running Time: 85 minutes, with no intermission.
Elaine Paige performed for one night only on March 7, 2013 at The Birchmere – 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, in Alexandria, VA. For future Birchmere events go to their website, or call the box office at (703) 549-7500.
Elaine Paige’s website.
An interview DCMTA Editor/Publisher Joel Markowitz did with Elaine Paige in 2011 after she was cast as Carlotta in the revival of Follies.