Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Interview • MARILYN CUTTS • Fascinating Aida • 2003

Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and Marilyn Cutts in performance. Taken during Fascinating Aida's Barefaced Chic! run at the Lyric Hammersmith in 2000 [Wikimedia]

Dillie Keane, Adele Anderson and Marilyn Cutts in performance. Taken during Fascinating Aida’s Barefaced Chic! run at the Lyric Hammersmith in 2000 [Wikimedia]

The Voice of an Angel

The all-girl trio, Fascinating Aida, have just opened at the Comedy Theatre in One Last Flutter, following a tour of the UK. They are hanging up their sequins and this is the last ever chance to catch them in London. One of the original three, Marilyn Cutts has ‘the voice of an angel’, according to fellow founder Dillie Keane. Ian Lees spoke to the ‘angel’ on Tuesday about influences, looking after her voice and ‘singing inside a Stradivarius’.

Ian Lees: Marilyn, first of all, thank you for taking time out to talk to me. I saw the show on Thursday and thought it was superb. Very, very funny. How have things been going from your perspective?

Marilyn Cutts: Well, my perspective is very different actually from that of Dillie and Adèle. In Fascinating Aida, my voice has a lot more exposure and so I find I have to be incredibly disciplined.

IL: Dillie says in her tour diary somewhere in the programme that you have ‘the voice of an angel’. How do you protect it?

MC: No smoky rooms. No gargling of Courvoisier. Just practical stuff really. You really have to protect the instrument.

IL: Your run at the Comedy ends on 6th December. Are you taking the show out and about over the Christmas period?

MC: No, but we are definitely doing two weeks in New York next spring in a brand new theatre, which is exciting for all of us.

IL: Your career began as a straight actress. What sort of productions were you involved in at the beginning?

MC: One of my first jobs was as an extra for the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in a production in Edinburgh of King Oedipus.

IL: You then moved into musicals. You met Dillie Keane at the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe in 1983. Then, together, with Lizzie Richardson, you formed the original Fascinating Aida. Who were your musical influences at the time?

MC: I’ve always been a classical music supporter. Jesse Norman springs to mind. But Dillie was great when it came to popular music. She broadened my musical education by introducing me to the work of people like Tom Lehrer, Flanders and Swann, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington. Adèle’s great love was jazz, but also church music. We all shared a love of Gilbert and Sullivan. Perhaps this kind of creative mix helps to explain why people find Fascinating Aida interesting.

IL: Continuing on your career path, you were in the European première of Stephen Sondheim’s Anyone Can Whistle and then followed this up by appearing in four separate productions of Sweeney Todd. Have you appeared in any other productions of Sondheim?

MC: Yes, I was in a production in Ipswich of Into the Woods which won a Martini award. I’ve also been in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I just love Sondheim’s intelligence.

IL: Can you tell us a bit about your forays into opera?

MC: Do you mean Gabriel Fauré? Oh ‘foray’… My forays into opera have been all too brief, but with Music Theatre London I was Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte and then later I appeared as Anina in La Traviata. This was nominated for an Olivier award for outstanding achievement.

IL: What’s been the most memorable venue so far on this tour?

MC: That’s difficult. I love Bath Theatre Royal. And I love Bury St. Edmunds. The acoustics in both of these venues are sublime. It’s like singing inside a Stradivarius.

IL: What’s your favourite opera?

MC: There are just too many. But I think contemporary opera is at the cutting edge. I adore the operas of Thomas Adés. And I adore Jonathan Dove’s Flight.

IL: What’s your favourite FA song?

MC: Dillie wrote a ballad which is on our ‘Barefaced Chic’ album. It’s all about picking yourself up and getting on with it in life as a warrior for Love. It’s called ‘One More Campaign’ and it sends shivers down my spine whenever I sing it.

IL: Fascinating Aida has now reached the ripe young age of twenty. Has the time flown?

MC: It has for me, but then, I’ve been away a lot. I go off on holiday, then come back and plunge into work again. It honestly seems like no time at all. And rather terrifying actually. There’s still so much to be done.

IL: Are you still writing new material?

MC: Dillie and Adèle are. They are currently writing a song that will be auctioned soon on eBay for the charity we’re supporting on our tour. The charity’s called War Child and they work to brighten up the lives of children caught up in conflict. They really do a lot of worthwhile work.

IL: Marilyn, I’m wondering if you’d be kind enough to put the record straight. Is there any possibility at all that you gals will change your minds about hanging up your sequins for good?

MC: The group is splitting up but this doesn’t mean that any of us are retiring. We’re just all going off to do new things in different guises. On the back of our programme you’ll see a photograph of us all with butterflies in our hair. We are simply approaching a metamorphosis.

IL: What would you like to do next?

MC: I’d like to go back to where I began my career. I’d like to do some straight acting. Perhaps some TV. Yes, some more serious acting, definitely — but in a wider sphere.

IL: Do you have any final message for the fans?

MC: Enjoy the music. Keep wearing those sequins.

IL: Thanks Marilyn, and good luck with the rest of the tour!

Ian Lees © 2003

Originally published on R&V on 19-11-03

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