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1st Night Photos: Elena Brings Edith to Life in Piaf

By • West End
The 30th anniversary revival of Pam Gems’ 1978 bio-play Piaf, starring Argentine actress Elena Roger as the French icon Edith Piaf, opened at the Donmar Warehouse last night (13 August 2008, previews from 7 August), where it has a limited run until 20 September 2008. Advance tickets for the entire run at the 250-seat venue have already sold out although ten day seats and up to 20 standing spaces are held back daily for each performance.

Roger made her West End debut in 2006 playing another 20th-century female icon, fellow Argentine Eva Peron, in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita, directed at the Adelphi Theatre by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage, whose associate at the time, Jamie Lloyd, now helms Piaf.

Piaf was born in Paris in December 1919 and – after a short tragic life, scarred by abandonment, drink and drugs addiction – she died on 10 October 1963, aged just 43. She is best remembered for her torch song classics including “La vie en rose” – which provided the title for the recent Oscar-winning movie about her life – “Milord”, “Hyme a l’amour” and “Non, je ne regrette rien”, which Roger sings in French in the stage show.


For 1st Night Photos, our photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the post-show party at Café des Amis along with the cast, director, author Pam Gems, artistic director Michael Grandage and other first-night guests.

Gems’ play was first staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the same address (pre-Donmar days, when the space was known as the Warehouse), starring Jane Lapotaire in the title role, and revived in the West End in 1993 with Elaine Paige (who, coincidentally, also preceded Elena Roger in the Peron role). In the new Donmar production, Roger is joined in the cast by Shane Attwooll, Phillip Browne, Lorraine Bruce, Luke Evans, Michael Hadley, Katherine Kingsley, Leon Lopez and Steve John Shepherd.

-by Terri Paddock

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