Music courses through Issy Van Randwyck's veins. Well known for her contributions to the three-girl cabaret group Fascinating Aida - along with Dillie Keane and Adele Anderson - Van Randwyck also performs regularly in her own solo show throughout the UK and abroad and counts amongst her many recordings a solo album, "It's Oh So Issy".

And then there are her theatre credits. These include A Little Night Music (at the National), Which Witch? (Piccadilly) and Kiss Me Kate (Open Air), for which she received a Laurence Olivier nomination for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical. In recent years, those credits also include several productions - Arcadia, A Small Family Business and The Man Who Came to Dinner - as part of the Chichester Festival summer season.

It was at Chichester, in 1998, that Van Randwyck first starred as sultry saloon singer Rose of Rangoon in the hit British premiere production of Song of Singapore. The musical, directed by Roger Redfarn, returned to to Chichester last month for a limited run before transferring to Greenwich and London, where it will re-open the May Fair Theatre, dark for the past decade.


Date & place of birth
Born in the former British colony of Hong Kong in the last century.

Now lives in...
Sunny Wandsworth, London's "brighter borough".

Family
Yes. I have a husband, Edward Hall, and a timeshare on a Scotty dog named Rags.

Trained at...
Madam Jojo's, Soho (the London cabaret club famous for its drag artists).

First big break
The above.

Career highlights

  • The above plus...
  • Recording "The Glory of Gershwin" album, produced by George Martin, for Larry Adler's 80th birthday tribute
  • Being on the same stage as Dame Judi Dench and Patricia Hodge for a year in A Little Night Music at the National
  • Playing New York with Fascinating Aida
  • My summer at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
  • Playing Rose in Song of Singapore for Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Working with director Peter Wood on Arcadia for Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Actually, all of my work at the Chichester Festival Theatre

    Favourite stage production that you've worked on
    The Betrayal of Nora Blake at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London in 1998. It was directed by my future ex-husband Nickolas Grace and also featured Claire Moore and Andrew C Wadsworth. It's a musical spoof of a film noir, and I got to play the evil twin Laura to Claire Moore's saintly twin Nora.

    Favourite co-star
    Richard Griffiths who I worked with on The Man Who Came to Dinner (at the Chichester Festival in 1999) because he's so generous as a performer and he twinkles on stage.

    Favourite director
    My husband, Edward Hall, of course. He's the best and he's rather good at directing, too.

    Favourite playwright
    Tom Stoppard. I had the good fortune of playing Lady Croom (from Arcadia) last summer at Chichester. I knew that such witty lines would not always trip so lightly off my tongue.

    Favourite choreographer
    Craig Revel Horwood. He did a brilliant job on Pal Joey last summer at Chichester. His choreography really made the show.

    What role would you most like to play (if you haven't already)?
    Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Failing that, Lieutenant Ripley in Alien.

    What do you like/dislike about performing in musicals versus doing cabaret?
    I have no dislikes. I love them both, and they're very different disciplines.

    What's the best thing currently on stage (not including this production)?
    Julius Caesar, which opens in July at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. It's directed by husband so if I'm not allowed to say that, then Feelgood (at the Garrick Theatre in the West End).

    What advice would you give the government to secure the future of British theatre?
    "Pull your f***ing finger out!"

    If you could swap places with one person (living or dead), who would it be & why?
    Dame Judi Dench, to know what true talent is.

    Favourite book
    Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir by Doris Kearns Goodwin

    Favourite holiday destination
    The Maldives

    What attracted you to Song of Singapore?
    The music and script. It's a great, high octane, never-a-dull-minute, cracking caper.

    What do you feel about re-opening the May Fair Theatre?
    A sense of responsibility!

    What's your favourite number from Song of Singapore?
    All the songs I get to sing, whether ballads or uptempo, are hits, but I suppose "We Are Rich" for its sheer anarchy value.

    What's your favourite line from Song of Singapore?
    "You can count on me."

    What's the funniest thing that's happened during the pre-London run for Song of Singapore?
    Once, during a show in Chichester, a member of the audience asked Martin Roach, who plays Slamdunk, whether I wore stockings or tights in the show. There are a lot more anecdotes, but I like that purely for its surreal quality.

    Anything else you'd like to add?
    Yes. We did a live recording of Song of Singapore down at Chichester. We acquired the rights and organised it ourselves as a cast venture. It'll be available in about three weeks. We did it because everyone has been asking for a recording for the past three years, and the record companies kept umming and ahhing. They wanted to see how we'd do in the West End first. But by then it would be too late so we decided to think American, do it ourselves and have it ready beforehand. The recording will be available to buy at the May Fair and Chichester Festival Theatres and also from the Dress Circle shop (in Covent Garden). I'm sure the record companies will be hoping this isn't going to set a precedent. We'll see.

    - Issy Van Randwyck was talking to Terri Paddock


    Song of Singapore plays at the Greenwich Theatre until 23 June 2001. It opens at London's May Fair Theatre on 2 July and continues to 9 September 2001, following previews from 28 June.