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Elaine Paige

From Academic Kids

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On the cover of Elaine Paige Tour Programme 2004
Elaine Paige (born Elaine Bickerstaff on March 5, 1948 in Barnet, Hertfordshire) is a world-renowned British actress and singer, primarily in musicals.

Paige's first professional appearance was in the UK tour of the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse musical The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd. She made her West End debut in Hair, and went on to featured roles in Jesus Christ Superstar, Nuts, Grease, and Billy (a musical adaptation of the film Billy Budd.)

In 1978, Hal Prince offered the still relatively unknown Paige the title role in Tim Rice (with whom she had a long-term relationship) and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, which proved to be the defining moment in her evolution to First Lady of British Musical Theatre. For her performance, she won the Society of West End Theatre Award for Best Actress and the Variety Club Award for Showbusiness Personality of the Year.

Paige has portrayed of some of Lloyd Webber's most notable female characters, such as Grizabella in Cats (a role she reprised for a video release) and Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. When Lloyd Webber initially considered writing a musical adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, it was Paige's voice he had in mind; however, the project changed because of the more operatic Sarah Brightman, who ultimately was cast in the part. Similarly, Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance was originally written for Paige, but then produced with Marti Webb, who was one of Paige's successors in Evita. (Coincidentally, Brightman eventually starred in Song and Dance).

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As Grizabella in Cats
By no means has Paige limited her theater credits to Lloyd Webber projects. In 1986, she appeared as Florence in Chess, (lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, formerly of ABBA), a role she had originated for the 1984 RCA double-disc concept album that had lead to the mounting of the West End production. She followed this success with a hit revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes (1989), a triumph as famed French chanteuse Edith Piaf in Pam Gems' musical play Piaf (1993), and another acclaimed revival, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's The King and I (2000). In 2004, she sang the role of Mrs. Lovett in the New York City Opera production of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

Paige also has had success in the UK singles charts. "I Know Him So Well" (from Chess), her duet with Barbara Dickson, held the #1 position in the British charts for four weeks, and still remains the biggest selling record by a female duo in the Guinness Book of Records. She also had a top ten hit with "Memory" from Cats. Additionally, she has had eight consecutive gold and four multi-platinum albums.

Paige has hosted her own BBC television specials as well as starred in several films for the network, and has also performed in a number of televised Royal Variety Shows.

In 1995, Paige was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen for her contributions to musical theatre.

As of December 2004 Paige hosts a weekly radio show, Elaine Paige on Sunday, on BBC Radio 2.

Solo recordings

  • Sitting Pretty (1978)
  • Elaine Paige (1981)
  • Stages (1983)
  • Cinema (1984)
  • Love Hurts (1985)
  • Christmas (1986)
  • Memories: The Best Of Elaine Paige (1987)
  • The Collection (1988)
  • The Queen Album (1988)
  • Love Can Do That (1991)
  • Together: The Best of Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson (1992)
  • Romance and the Stage (1993)
  • Piaf (1994)
  • Encore (1995)
  • Performance (1996)
  • From A Distance (1997)
  • On Reflection: The Very Best Of Elaine Paige (1998)
  • Elaine Paige: A Collection (2003)
  • Love Songs (2004)
  • Centre Stage: The Very Best Of Elaine Paige (2004)

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