Stage Ladies: Paige Interviews Angela LansburyDate: 14 October 2005
The first lady of British musical theatre Elaine Paige meets the first lady of the Broadway stage, the legendary Angela Lansbury (pictured), this Sunday in Paige’s weekly BBC Radio 2 show that specialises in the music of Broadway, the West End and Hollywood.
The broadcast (between 1.00 and 2.30pm) will coincide with Lansbury’s 80th birthday on Sunday. She was born on 16 October 1925 in London and began her acting training at Webber Douglas, but had to leave owing to the outbreak of the Second World War when she and her family moved to the US.
Lansbury subsequently made her Oscar-nominated film debut in 1944, appearing with Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight, which was followed by other Oscar-nominated performances for The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Manchurian Candidate.
But her true calling was always the theatre. After making her Broadway debut in 1957 in Hotel Paradiso, she went on to win four Tony Awards for the original production of Jerry Herman’s Mame in 1966, Dear World in 1969, as Mama Rose in the first Broadway revival of Gypsy in 1974 (a performance she subsequently recreated in the West End), and as the original Mrs Lovett in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in 1979. She last returned to Broadway briefly in 1983 in an ill-fated revival of Mame that ran for less than a month. She withdrew from her subsequent planned return in a new Kander and Ebb musical based on the Durenmatt play The Visit in 2001 because her husband Peter Shaw was ill (he subsequently died in 2003).
Outside of musical theatre, Lansbury has become best known for playing Jessica Fletcher in the long-running TV series Murder She Wrote, for which she was nominated for an Emmy a dozen times but never won.
Lansbury’s interviewer Elaine Paige is a multi-award winning star of such musicals as the original London productions of Evita, Cats and Chess, as well as revivals of Anything Goes and The King and I. She has also taken over in Sunset Boulevard both here and on Broadway, and has followed in Lansbury’s footsteps to play Mrs Lovett in a production of Sweeney Todd for New York City Opera last year.
The broadcast is also now available to hear online via the Listen Again facility on the BBC Radio 2 website.
- by Mark Shenton