Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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PAIGE, Elaine

(b Elaine Bickerstaff, 5 March '51, Barnet, North London) UK singer, actress. Played in Anthony Newley show The Roar Of The Greasepaint, London prod. of Hair, Rock Carmen at the Roundhouse, Jesus Christ Superstar '73, first leading role in Grease (opened in London '73 starring then-unknown Richard Gere; Paige was an understudy, eventually got the female lead), then 18 months in Billy. She quit to look for non-musical work, and played in TV soap Crossroads, but landed lead in Lloyd Webber's Evita '78 and became a star, both show and star showered with awards. Left after 20 months to be pop singer; album Sitting Pretty incl. single 'Don't Walk Away Till I Touch You', which didn't do much. Concert hall debut '81 at Royal Festival Hall; starred that year in Lloyd Webber's Cats (incl. no. 5 chart hit 'Memory'); album Elaine Page '82 reached top 60 UK LPs, not bad for an artist whose fans were mostly showgoers. Had her own BBC TV special, joined Royal Gala opening of new venue the Barbican Centre; Stages '83 (show songs) on K-Tel in deal with WEA was no. 2 album, Cinema '84 no. 12. Love Hurts '85 on WEA again went top ten. Working with Tim Rice on new show Chess, she recorded duet with Barbara Dickson 'I Know Him So Well' for no. 1 single; released a Christmas album '86. Further albums: The Queen Album '88 contained covers of that rock band's songs; Love Can Do That '91, Together '92 with Dickson, Romance And The Stage '93. She also played in the London revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes late '89. She is resigned to her fate: the musical stage is her métier and she has become virtually a workaholic. Pam Gems's Piaf had first opened in the early '70s with Jane Lapotaire, who won a Tony when the show went to Broadway, but when Peter Hall revived it in London for a limited run late '93 Paige was a sensation, a truly fine singing actress. She later took over the lead in Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard in London, then finally made it to Broadway in that part '96 to thunderous acclaim even from critics who don't like the show. A South Bank Show on UK TV April '96 had her looking for the ghosts of her best parts, visiting Buenos Aires (Evita), Paris (Piaf) and Sunset Boulevard (Norma Desmond).