Elaine Paige, often dubbed, “The First Lady Of British Theatre,” for her impressive stage career as one of Britain’s musical theatre stars. Some of the highlights of her career include being the first woman to star as Eva Peron in “Evita” and was the first to ever belt out the song “Memory” from London’s stages in “Cats.”
In addition to her stage career, she hosts a BBC Radio 2 program highlighting music from theatrical shows. On the April 5, 2009 broadcast to mark the 10th anniversary of “Mamma Mia!” on London’s West End, Elaine interviewed Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus ABBA to talk about “Mamma Mia!” as well as 25th Anniversary of “Chess” (Benny and Björn’s musical from the 1984 that they co-wrote with Tim Rice and coincidentally also starred Elaine Paige). Elaine joined Benny and Björn at Benny’s Mono Music Studio in Stockholm for the interview portion of the program.
In addition to spending time discussing both “Mamma Mia!” and “Chess” with the boys from ABBA, Elaine also got them to discuss their other musical “Kristina Från Duvemåla.” which up until now has only been in Swedish. One of the highlights from the discussion was the first presentation of “Du Måste Finnas” in English as performed by Helen Sjöholm, who played Kristina in the original Swedish cast. In English, the song is entitled, “You Have To Be There” and the lyrics were said to be a draft version and are not yet set in stone as the final version of it. If everything goes according to plan, New York audiences will be treated to a concert version of the new English translation of the show on September 23 and 24th at Carnegie Hall.
Also presented was the first opportunity to hear a studio recording of the English version of Benny Anderssons Orkester’s (BAO) “Vår Sista Dans” also sung by Helen Sjöholm. The English version of the song, known as “Our Last Dance” has been performed live several times in appearances throughout the world, including Minneapolis, Minnesota (for which I was able to attend). Plans are in the works for BAO to release an album of their previously released work with English translations of the songs that feature vocals for the benefit of audiences outside of Sweden.
To close out her interview, Elaine took the opportunity to have Benny Andersson accompany her in a live recording just for the radio show of ABBA’s classic song, “Thank You For The Music.” A fun interview overall and a nice opportunity to hear some rare versions of songs. If you enjoy any of the music from the works of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, take the opportunity to hear Elaine Paige’s program on BBC’s Radio 2 website this week before the program gets replaced with next week’s show. Click here to visit the page for Elaine Paige’s Radio 2 program. Click here if you want a direct link to the streaming replay of the broadcast.