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Brief Encounter with... Frances Ruffelle

Musical theatre star Frances Ruffelle originated the role of Eponine in Les Miserables, and her other stage credits include Starlight Express, Chicago and Piaf. She is performing her sold-out solo show Paris Original at the Crazy Coqs from 4-8 February

By • London
Frances Ruffelle
Frances Ruffelle

What was the inspiration for Paris Original?
France has always been a prominent theme in my life, from visiting Paris for the first time when I was only 3 to playing many French characters in my acting career. I love French music and fashion and the effortless style and glamour of the French. I decided especially after playing Piaf recently that Paris would be a good theme for my new show.

What's your favourite song from the show?
"Paris is a Lonely Town" originally sung by the wonderful Judy Garland.

The show celebrates France's most celebrated singers - do you have a favourite?
It does, and it also celebrates my love of Paris and all things ooh la la! Piaf has to be my favourite but one of my other favourites is Francoise Hardy.

Your first night is the anniversary of the first night of Les Miserables 28 years ago - will it bring back memories?
I think I will have to mention at the performance that night don't you? I always think about that first performance on the 8th of October every year and think how lucky I was to have that amazing opportunity.

What do you like about doing cabaret?
I love being so close to the audience, and I mean close. I often sing in the middle of the room so I can see everybody. I love being the boss and choosing my own material and doing exactly what I want on stage. The only thing I don't like is the word Cabaret… I wish there was another word I could use, as my show is really a show, with a theme. I take ages devising it with my wonderful collaborator Matt Ryan, I don't throw a bunch of songs together and talk about my life, in fact I don't talk all that much… I love the process of developing the show, writing lyrics for it, I have written some new English lyrics for some of the French songs and it has got me back into songwriting again which is such a great thing as I had stopped that for so long. I love to style the show too; I always have costume changes in my shows, I've even made some of my own costumes, which has completely surprised my kids, but not the chic clothes made by my generous friend Julien Macdonald.

Ultimate showtune?
"In a Very Unusual Way", Maury Yeston.

Do you have any idols?
Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland, Liza Minelli. Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow… the list goes on… I love charismatic entertainers.

What's next?
I don't know for sure right now… but I have a couple of movies coming out next year and I will take Paris Original to New York at some point. I have been very busy and am looking forward to a little break... but hopefully just a little one.

Tags: Frances RuffelleCrazy Coqs


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