DIVA TALK: A Conversation with Olivier Winner Elaine Paige, U.S.-Bound for Concert Tour

By Andrew Gans
22 Feb 2013

Paige in Sunset Boulevard.

Question: What are your thoughts these days about returning to the theatre?
Paige: Well… [Laughs.] I don't think about it too often to be honest. Oh, gosh, I don't know. I think certainly, at the moment anyway, having had my little foray again with Follies, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and somehow, when I'm doing it and I'm there, there's nothing to beat it really. It's just the best to be part of a company of people and working on character. There's nothing to beat it. It's still my favorite thing to do in the world, but the thing that nowadays I find a little more difficult is it takes up all of your life. Clearly, as I'm not getting younger, I find it tiring.

Question: Eight shows a week is a lot.
Paige: Eight shows a week—you've got to be devoted. And, again, when I look back on my career, I have been devoted for 40 years plus. And, I think it's got to be something that I really, really want to do to do it again. You know, I would never say never. I'm not giving up the theatre entirely, but I think, certainly, for this year anyway, I won't be thinking of looking to do anything in the theatre for the moment.

Question: It seems like you have a very full life, and I can really understand not wanting to be at the theatre eight nights a week.
Paige: As I say, I did it for really all my life. I've lived in the theatre. I mean, my dressing rooms, in each show I ever did, I made it like home. I would get furniture and drapes and sofas… It made it really comfortable because, for all of my life—or practically 40 years of my life—I've lived in the theatre, and I think, at the moment anyway, I've earned myself a little break from it. But, that's not to say that if somebody offered me something that I couldn't resist… Believe me, equally, it's the old drug—theatre. I would be right back in there like a shot, if it were something that really interested me. So I'm sitting on the fence a bit about it. But I think, for the rest of this year anyway—2013—I can't imagine I'm going to be in the theatre eight shows a week. I'm not looking for it anyway—let's put it that way.

Question: Do you have any new recordings in the works?
Paige: I'd been working terribly hard with Follies, came back from Follies, took a couple of months off, and then I had to fulfill a commitment that I had to postpone initially because of Follies, which was an Australasian tour. So I've just finished that, and then I took Christmas off, and I just completed another tour—Scandinavia. Literally, I got back Tuesday. I've been on a performing treadmill a bit, and what I feel I need to do—this happens to me every now and again, because I do love performing—but I feel that I need to take some time out to kind of fill up the cup again. I need to be re-inspired, and I need to step back for a minute and work out exactly what I think I want to do next. And, recording is certainly something I've been thinking of, and I make endless lists all the time for ideas of what I might want to record. I need time really to be able to sit and ponder…and work out what it is I want to do.

Question: And, you're also still doing your radio show …
Paige: I'm doing my radio show as well, and that's a weekly commitment and something I love doing. It's good fun. I've been doing that nine years this September, which is frightening! I don't know where nine years went. Oh my God! But I love doing that and doing the interviews with various people that pop by every year in London, so yes… I'm doing that as well. I haven't got much time for life! [Laughs.]

Paige's U.S. concert dates follow:

Feb. 26 at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, AZ
Feb. 27 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA
March 1 at the Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room in San Francisco, CA
March 4-5 at the Crest Theatre in Delray Beach, FL
March 7 at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA
March 9 at The Town Hall in New York, NY
March 10 at Kean University in Union, NJ
March 12 at the Cabaret at Theater Square in Pittsburgh, PA

[The Town Hall is located in Manhattan at 123 W. 43rd St. For tickets visit Ticketmaster.com.]

Read my review of Elaine Paige's 2012 New York concert debut here.

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.