Judy Page is a true-blue South African musical theatre Legend who’s played some of the stage’s most memorable roles – from Dolly Levi to Roxie Hart. Born in Zimbabwe, Judy first thought of making a career as a dancer, but she was persuaded to instead harness her singing talent.
Moving to South Africa in the 1960’s she became a band vocalist and cabaret performer before breaking into musical theatre in the mid-70’s production of From Berlin to Broadway. She’s since appeared in countless stage musicals including The Sound of Music, The King and I and Mame.
Those who thought that Chicago was first performed in South Africa in 2005, may be surprised to learn that Judy was our first local Roxie Hart in the 1977 production. She also played Mama Morton in a Port Elizabeth production in 2002.
Her award winning career has included tributes to Brel, Sondheim, Piaf and Judy Garland, performing in Sun City extravaganzas and even a stint in the now cringe-inducing SABC Dallas-wannabe soap series Westgate in the 80’s. Most recently she performed as Golde in last year’s Fiddler on the Roof.
She starts off 2008 with a series of intimate performances in Foxwood House, Joburg, and will spend the latter part of the year strutting her stuff in the Broadway version of The Full Monty in Joburg and Cape Town.
Sassy, occasionally brassy, yet still maintaining a sense of personal mystique (unlike today’s soul-baring and vagina-flashing celebrities) Judy has long had a significant gay theatre fan base. She’s also renowned for being a serial bride and for having one of the best pair of legs ever seen in the business…
How does it feel to be a musical theatre legend?
The last time I felt it, it was oh-so-good!
Did you have a role model who inspired you to become a performer when you were growing up?
Judy Garland. In fact, any musical film that I could sneak into.
How do you feel about your gay fans?
I just love them – and their sense of humour.
Why do you think they like you so?
I think I’m easy to emulate….
Do you own any Madonna CDS?
What are your thoughts on the new generation of female celebrities and singers, such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, who don’t seem to own any underwear?
I would never allow a grandchild of mine to behave like that. It’s so unladylike!
Why do you think the gays love their musicals so?
They are spectacular – usually full of glitz and glamour. And musicals often have exquisite wit.
Do you tell people your real age, or should a lady be allowed to minimise the damage by stretching the truth a little?
I just never tell… so I never have to lie!
What is your favourite musical role?
Definitely Mamma Morton from Chicago.
When was your last Diva moment?
Answering these questions…
You’re doing a Valentine’s Day show. What is your most memorable Valentine’s Day?
Being with husbands one, two, three, four and five. Now I just sing [the song] Funny Valentine…
What are your memories of Westgate?
I was doing Torch Song Trilogy in the early part of the evening, then rushing off to do two cabarets at night at the Top of the Carlton followed by an early call on set at 6 a.m. for Westgate. It all became a bit of a blur…
Would you appear in another soap series?
If the part were right. Something like being Lee Haines in Isidingo. A wicked aunt or one of the witches from Known Gods…
Do you prefer to perform in intimate shows or big musicals?
Well, it depends what you mean by intimate. I love doing both actually.
You’ll be appearing in The Full Monty soon. Would you ever consider taking it all off on stage?
Yes, but I would never go on without makeup or nails.
Who is your favourite living female star?
I have a few: Glenn Close, Queen Latifah, Julia Roberts, Judi Dench and of course Bette Midler.
What luxuries do you like to spend money on?
Mostly really important things I can’t live without… Like shoes and more shoes! What girl can resist shoes?
What’s the most demanding part of what you do?
Finding the right pair of eyelashes for the role. But seriously, keeping oneself focused.
Who would you prefer to go on date with (we won’t tell your husband)? Brad Pitt or David Beckham?
Brad Pitt! He not only looks yummy, he can also talk.
The legendary Judy Page sings a selection of classic favourites at Foxwood House in Joburg from 14 to 17 February, including a special Valentine’s Day show. E-mail email@example.com to book. Judy will also be starring in The Full Monty the Broadway Musical at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town from 26 July to 17 August and at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre from 12 September to 12 October.