THE First Lady of musical theatre, Elaine Paige, puts everything on hold for Wimbledon fortnight.

The singer is a huge fan of the sport: she plays two or three times a week, is a member of the Queen’s Club in London, is president of the Dan Maskell Tennis Trust, which raises funds for people with disabilities who love to play tennis, and she wanted to be a pro tennis player herself.

She said: “When asked by my headmistress what I wanted to do as a career I said: ‘I want to be a professional tennis player.’ She looked at me from over her desk and said: ‘But Elaine dear you are too short! You can’t even see over the net!’ I was devastated!

“Everyone knows during Wimbledon fortnight not to even call me, visit me or invite me out — unless, of course, it’s to Wimbledon — as I am glued to the TV.”

Elaine is best known for her role as Eva Peron in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first production of Evita. She scooped a Laurence Olivier Award for Performance of the Year in a Musical.

She was also featured in a Melvyn Bragg TV documentary about the places that were key to characters she had played, naturally including Argentina.

“Seeing Eva Peron’s grave, and the Casa Rosada where she made her speeches, to stand where she had stood was fascinating,” said Elaine.

“Playing Eva Peron was very important to me as without her I may not be talking to you today!”

This month Elaine taking in the UK on an autumn tour and she will be stopping off in Swindon with her new show celebrating some of the songwriters who were special to her, including Harry Nilsson, Jim Webb, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, and Lennon & McCartney.

“Songs like Guitar Man by Bread, MacArthur Park by Jim Webb – their music has been the soundtrack to all our lives, not just mine,” she said.

Elaine has her own five piece band, led by John G Smith, which is accompanying her on the tour.

The show will also include her own songs such as Memory, from Cats, and I Know Him So Well, the 1985 hit song from Chess that she performed with Barbara Dixon.

Elaine is also in demand as an actress and has appeared in shows such as Agatha Christie, Lady Killers, Tales of the Unexpected and she is in a new Midsomer Murders episode due to be broadcast soon.

“I have also just finished filming a BBC sitcom with Johnny Vegas which was great fun and a complete departure from what most people know me as,” she said.

Elaine was given an OBE for her services to musical theatre and she said that was thrilled to meet the Queen and the Royal Family.

“I am a huge royalist, I was recently at Clarence House and met the Duchess of Cornwall at an event for the Royal Voluntary Service. It was wonderful spending time with her,” she said.

Next year will be the 35th anniversary of the singer’s Stages album so Elaine is planning a follow-up album. “Watch this space,” she said.

This Christmas she is taking to the stage as the wicked Queen Rat in the London Palladium panto Dick Whittington.

“She’s very evil so I hope the audience don’t boo me… oh yes, they will, oh no, they won’t! See I’m already preparing for the role!

“I’ve a wonderful costume designed by Hugh Durrant, who designs costumes for Cher, so you can imagine how elaborate it is!”

Elaine performs to a sell-out crowd at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on Tuesday, November 7. For more details of other shows visit