She started with an encore! Yes, Elaine Paige came to the stage of the Sydney Opera House with the kind of song she’d normally be asked to come back to perform. In fact, when I think about it, most of the night’s songs were the kind of song you’d perform as an ecore.
The show started with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performing an introduction featuring excerts from some of the many musicals in which Paige has appeared over time. It occured to me these were the musical moments she really enjoyed – such as an excerpt from Chess – but which didn’t really fit into the concept of the show, which Paige described as “the greatest hits”.
And hits there were. Everything from “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, to “Memory” and “I Know Him So Well” which, oddly enoughed she performed as a solo number though it’s usually a duet. In my head, I sang along with Elaine, filling in those moments normally sung by Barbara Dickson on the “Chess” soundtrack but which Elaine left out. Elaine described “Chess” as a musical written for her by Tim Rice and Bjorn and Benny from ABBA, who she said she used to call “Binky & Bonky”.
Other highlights for me included a couple of numbers from “Sunset Boulevard”, especially as she emerged in the second half looking quite mad and her rendition of “Mad About The Boy”. I’d only ever heard that song as a plaintive kind of love song from the perspective of one person, but Paige explained and sang the song as three women with different perspectives on the same person. Very interesting.
There were only a couple of occasions when the songs didn’t really work for me. They were the moments when she tried to get a little too groovy, wandering around the stage trying to be little funky. That said, her performances of a couple of big pop songs, “Change The World” and “From A Distance” were truly heart-felt.
Her passion was rewarded with three encores and a couple of standing ovations which, literally, brought her to tears. It was a really great show and although there were occasions when I thought her voice was a little thin, she sang every song with 110% passion. Every song she sang, she sang as if it was an encore!