United Kingdom: Frances Ruffelle to star in musical The Wild Party

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The 1994 Eurovision Song Contest representative for the United Kingdom, Frances Ruffelle, will be the star of the upcoming musical The Wild Party.

In the Eurovision world, Frances Ruffelle is perhaps best known for representing the United Kingdom at the ESC 1994 with the song Lonely symphony. But the artist is also a prolific musical theatre actress, starring in such roles as Dinah in Starlight express, Éponine in Les Misérables, Roxie Hart in Chicago and iconic singer Edith Piaf in the eponymous musical, Piaf. For her interpretation of Éponine in Les Misérables, Frances Ruffelle won a Tony Award in the category Best Featured Actress in a Musical, in 1987.

Her career spanning more than three decades, Frances Ruffelle is about to add another lead role to her impressive musical list: she will play Queenie in The Wild Party, the opening musical of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s renewed The Other Palace, with previews starting 13 February 2017.

Frances Ruffelle gave an extensive interview about her musical career, and her role as Queenie, to Marianka Swain of BBW (Broadwayworld.com). This is what Frances Ruffelle had to say about The Wild Party and her upcoming stage performance:

I knew both versions – they’re both really good, but very different. I knew this score better. I heard it about 10 years ago, when my friend sent it to me to listen to and said ‘You ought to play Queenie, you are Queenie’, so I’ve been in love with that role and this musical for a long time.

(…)

The first thing I fell in love with was the music. It’s incredible material – very raunchy, very rich, almost jazz opera, very clever. I appreciate that – it’s not the sort of material you could take to an audition, it’s tricky, intricate stuff.

The show’s based on this poem that was banned in most countries, and it’s set in the Twenties in New York when there was a lot of debauchery, probably more than people realise. Free love, sex, drugs, and the only way to drink liquor was at these wild parties because of Prohibition, so you’re not in a club, you’re in people’s houses. Queenie’s a vaudeville showgirl and this party shows you the seedy side of that whole world, the booze and violence. It’s intimate, dark and dangerous.

I definitely identify with Queenie in some ways – a lot of actresses probably do. But there’s a lot in this character to get across and that’s not always easy, as I’ve discovered in rehearsal. I watched quite a lot of movies and read a lot about that period, and I’m a very visual person, so I looked at how people then moved and dressed and talked. It’s a lot about putting on a show or playing a role, even offstage.

The stage actress also gave some information about her future roles:

I’m going to be doing a play soon – either this year or the next, and either in New York or London! We’re working out the details.

Finally, Frances Ruffelle gave some advice to aspiring performers:

If you’re getting pigeonholed, challenge yourself to take on material – even if you’re not performing it – that’s against what you would normally do. Don’t just act, write as well and find your own work – I’ve done that a lot. You get so much back from writing a song or a scene, so much pleasure and contentment. Even if no one likes it or even sees it, I don’t want to just sit around waiting for the phone to ring. Keep working and exploring and then you’re more in control of where you’re going.

Read the complete interview with Frances Ruffelle here.

Frances Ruffelle (Born: Frances Jane Ruffell, Redbridge, London, United Kingdom, 1965) is an English musical theatre actress and recording artist, daughter of  Sylvia Young, who is the founder and principal of the famous Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, and sister of actress Alison Ruffelle. In 1994, she represented the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, Ireland, with the song Lonely Symphony, also known as We will be free. Lonely symphony reached a decent 10th place, earning 63 points. The song became a hit in the UK Top 30 Singles Chart.

Starring in many musicals and theatre plays, Frances Ruffelle has released six solo albums, and is featured on various other albums. In her personal life, the artist was formerly married to stage director and playwright John Caird. They have two children together: musician Eliza Doolittle and Nathaniel George.

Enjoy Frances Ruffelle performing Lonely symphony at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest once again:

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