Call Redialed: NEW Frances Ruffelle Interview: "Frances Ruffelle Lives(s) in New York" at The Green Room 42
After interviewing Frances Ruffelle in 2017 about the debut of her Green Room 42 Residency, Frances Ruffelle Live(s) in New York, it’s so exciting to catch up with her during this premiere year to find out how it’s going.
Frances Ruffelle Live(s) in New York has been a sold-out hit since its debut in the fall of 2017. The show encompasses Broadway, Piaf, French 60s pop, and American chart hits. It features an updated version of “On My Own,” Ruffelle’s signature number from the original Les Miserables, in addition to a song cut from the original French production. The evening also includes selections from Michael LaChiusa’s The Wild Party, in which Frances starred as “Queenie” in the show’s recent acclaimed U.K. Premiere.
Frances Ruffelle Live(s) in New York plays The Green Room 42 (570 10th Avenue, 4th floor of the Yotel) on September 29, November 3, & December 8 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!
1. This fall you are continuing your residency at The Green Room 42. We spoke right before you started it in 2017. What has been the best part about doing this year long residency? I love doing one-woman shows. Having a residency really gives me the opportunity to challenge myself with the writing of the piece and checking out the changes on the audience. I feel that I have now created a whole, flowing theatre piece with a solid story.
2. What have you learned from the previous shows that now inform these upcoming shows? These shows have given me the confidence to write more theatre pieces and even attempt a film script. I always try to learn from every show I ever do…
3. Can you tell us one or two funny stories that have taken place during your previous shows that you can share with us? My last show in London, last week was fun, my boyfriend Craig Bierko watched on Facetime from New York. At the end of the show I noticed his face, on the phone, propped on the bar and grabbed the phone and made him sing along to my encore. The audience went crazy for it. Made us all laugh so much.
4. What is something you would like to happen in these upcoming shows that has not happened yet while performing? I can’t think of anything. When I am performing, I am so immersed in that moment, that I don’t really think about something else happening. I am so happy and grateful to get the chance to do what I love.
5. Which song has been the most fun to perform? Which one do you always have to pray you get through? I love performing “It’s All Right with Me” by Cole Porter. It has so many levels to the lyrics. I love finding the different dynamics and the thoughts behind the meaning you think it has. It’s a perfect acting piece.
I don’t pray that I will get through any song as I absolutely love fuck ups…that’s the beauty of live theatre and being in a small room like The Green Room 42 where the audience can hear and see you breathe. Though on saying that…“La Foule” (an Edith Piaf song) is a bugger of a song and when I get the whole thing right I have a nice warm chuckle inside….
6. Is there any discussion about this show being recorded as a live album? Yes, we have discussions…but I like the show to be a surprise for the audience. I am currently writing the next show, so once it’s time to move on to it, I will record and film this show and share it.
7. I have a component to my interviews called “I Can See Clearly Now” where I try to clear up misconceptions about my interviewees. What do you feel is the biggest misconception about yourself that you would like to clear up right now? I’m not sure if there are any…probably lots, but no one really shares them with me. In the entertainment business, I can guess I am known for the ballad singing about lost love/unrequited love, young urchin waif. I am so lucky to have been first in that beautiful role, but there is a lot more to me. And I love to act in crazy comedies. I would love people in my industry and especially in the UK to be more open to that, and not just assume that all I do is sing pretty ballads.
8. What shows have you seen recently that you are loving? I am crazy about The Band’s Visit. It’s exquisite.
9. What is your dream role you still want to play? Oh I don’t know really…I just love to be challenged.
10. What’s next for you? New York is such a creative place for me…I have lots of upcoming projects. I am doing a play reading next month for the New York Theatre Workshop. I am creating new works myself too, writing new songs, and writing a movie. I will announce confirmed works on my website of course. Looking forward so very much to my one woman shows. Thanks for chatting to me Adam.
More on Frances:
You could be forgiven for expecting Frances Ruffelle to be French. After all, her latest album, I Say Yeh-Yeh features a number of French songs and she has played many French roles on stage. Then of course there’s her Gallic-sounding name.
You possibly know her best however for originating the role of iconic waif "Eponine" in the original London production of Les Misérables, for her anthemic hit single "Lonely Symphony," or for recently playing "Naomi," Dorien Green’s vicar daughter in ITV comedy Birds Of A Feather. But Frances is a recording artist at heart, with five solo albums and a series of 5-star sellout UK and US live performances to her name. Oh, and she is British, born in Essex.
As a singer/songwriter Frances has released the albums Fragile (produced by Guy Chambers), Frances Ruffelle (an album of torch songs from the 16th century to the present day, produced by Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp), Showgirl and Imperfectly Me. She also recorded the meditative album Purify, based on ancient Sanskrit mantras as one half of duo PaTala. I Say Yeh-Yeh, her new, fifth solo album showcases her collaboration with renowned singer/songwriter and producer Gwyneth Herbert as she puts a unique, earthy and at times mischievous spin on some of the best – and lesser – known French songs.
Following the success of her widely acclaimed solo Beneath The Dressconcerts at the Edinburgh Festival and in London in 2014, Frances took the show to legendary venue 54 Below in New York, for a series of sold out performances. Later that year she premiered her follow-up show Paris Original at The Crazy Coqs, London, with an updated version of Beneath The Dress selling-out the same venue in March 2015. Following five dates performing I Say Yeh, Yeh in its entirety to celebrate the album’s release, at Crazy Coqs in October 2015, Frances also took the show to Washington DC, New York, and again in London in 2016.
Aside from her own albums and live performances, Frances’ is famed for creating the character of "Eponine" in the original London RSC production of Les Misérables (for which composers Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil wrote the legendary number "On My Own" especially to suit her voice). She went on to recreate the role on Broadway where she won a coveted Tony award, Helen Hayes award, Theatre World award and Outer Circle Critics award for her performance. It seems fitting then, as Les Misérables celebrates its 30th Anniversary in the West End, Frances reinterprets "On My Own" and introduces us to "L’Un Vers L’Autre," a song originally written for "Eponine" that didn’t make into the show.
Frances’ first hit the London stage in Terence Rattigan’s play The Sleeping Prince with Omar Sharif, before starring as "Dinah" in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Numerous stage adventures have followed, including creating the role of "Yonah" in director John Caird’s West End production of Children of Eden, playing opposite Ian Dury in Apples at the Royal Court and starring as "Roxie Hart" in Chicago at London’s Adelphi Theatre.
More recently, Frances was able to explore her love of French chanteuse Edith Piaf, playing the title role in Pam Gems’ play Piaf at the Curve Theatre, Leicester, for which she received a UK Theatre award nomination.
Frances’ film career includes a cameo appearance as "Whore #1" in Tom Hooper’s Oscar-winning big-screen version of Les Misérables (2012), where she was one of only two original West End cast members invited to take part in the movie (the other being original "Jean Valjean," Colm Wilkinson). She also appears in the films Devil’s Tower (2014), Hide (2014).
Alongside the release of I Say Yeh-Yeh, Frances appears in a short film produced by Sadie Frost, which features her album track "Bang, Bang."
With a multi-faceted career spanning recording to live performance to theatre to TV to film, who knows how Frances Ruffelle will surprise us next?