Interview: Frances Ruffelle
She's done it all! Eurovision, Les Mis on Broadway, Roxie Hart in the West End, daughter of Sylvia Young, Mother of Eliza Doolittle. We catch up with the divine Frances Ruffelle...
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M'lady, what are you up to right now?
I'm working on two projects at once. My solo show Paris Original at the Crazy Coqs in London and a new musical called ‘The A to Z of Mrs P’ also starring Isy Suttie at the Southwark Playhouse. So I am busy learning and revising lots of words. My brain is pretty fried now, but I’m fitting in some yoga and a bit of golf practice.
Paris Original sold out instantly last October. For those who haven't seen it, could you tell us a little more?
It is a show about my love of Paris with the music of Francoise Hardy, Edith Piaf and celebrating all things ‘ooh la la’. It has sold out again luckily!
Your career has spanned over 30 years now. We know this must be a difficult ask, but could you pinpoint your best and worst gigs and why?
It’s difficult to answer but I guess the best has to be performing Eponine in Les Miserables on Broadway at the age of 21. The worst was a small show which will remain nameless. Anyway I have forgotten the title, at the Kings Head Theatre in London. I was convinced to do it by a friend and I regretted it from the first day of rehearsals. The director was fired two days before we opened and the whole thing was a miserable disaster!
Ouch! On to happier things, you were in the original London cast of both Les Mis and Starlight Express, what's it like to be a part of the team that launched such classics?
I was thrilled and lucky to be in two big hits back to back. But more than that, it's just wonderful to be there at the beginning and be part of the creation of a new piece.
How did your part in the Les Mis film come about?
Cameron Mackintosh wanted Colm Wilkinson and me to be in it as we were both in the original London and Broadway cast. It was a really nice gesture to ask us. It was just great to be part of it, even for a small moment.
Performing ‘Paris Original’ at The Crazy Coqs is so intimate compared to some stages you've performed on. What attracted you to the venue?
It’s so glamorous and I love to perform in a small space so that I can really involve the audience in my act. They also feed us fabulous food so that’s a bonus.
Who would you say are some of your inspirations from the world of music and stage?
Liza Minelli, Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand and Elvis Presley.
Now onto music: you've released five albums! Can we expect a sixth?
Yes, but not yet! I want to do a French album.
You also represented the UK in Eurovision 1994. What are your memories of that time?
It was one big party, it really was. Lot’s of fun and no nerves, even though I performed the show to millions.
We have to mention your daughter is Eliza Doolittle. She’s been doing amazingly, did you give her any advice in regards to the entertainment industry?
I try not to give advice and stay being ‘Mum’.
What's next for you?
The A to Z of Mrs P at the Southwark Playhouse
Frances performs her solo show 'Paris Original' at The Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zedel, Piccadilly, London from February 4-8. For more information see www.crazycoqs.com.
Check our Frances and her Eurovision tune 'Lonely Symphony':
Words: Lee Dalloway and Chris Hitchings