Frances Ruffelle

Frances Ruffelle

Infobox actor
name = Frances Ruffelle

imagesize = 180px
caption =
birthname =
birthdate = birth date and age|1965|08|29
othername =
occupation = Actor
spouse =
yearsactive =
website =
academyawards =
tonyawards = Best Featured Actress in a Musical
1987 "Les Misérables"

Frances Ruffelle (born 29 August 1965) is a British musical theatre actress and recording artist. Her mother is Sylvia Young OBE, the founder of the famous theatre school at which Frances trained and where she began performing at the age of seven. She is best known for originating the role of Eponine in the English language version of "Les Misérables" for which she won Tony Award. She has also notably appeared in "Starlight Express", "Children of Eden" and "Chicago".



Ruffelle's first musical performance was at age 16 in "Gavin the Monster". Three years later she took on the principal role of Dinah in Andrew Lloyd Webber's roller skating musical "Starlight Express" in the Original London Premiere cast. It was her work on "Starlight Express" where she first came into contact with renowned stage director Trevor Nunn.

A year later, she had left "Starlight" and joined the original London cast of "Les Misérables" as Eponine. Though virtually an unknown outside of the West End, she and Colm Wilkinson were invited to reprise their roles for the Broadway launch. Ruffelle was nominated for and won multiple awards (including the Tony) for her role. She returned to the role she originated in 1997 on the West End. It is rumored that Lea Salonga took over the role Ruffelle had created for the Tenth Anniversary concert after Frances turned down an offer to appear, but this speculation has yet to be verified.

Her subsequent work on stage included the Ian Dury musical "Apples" in 1989 and Stephen Schwartz's "Children of Eden" in 1990, featuring on the cast albums of both. She has also starred as the female lead Roxie Hart in "Chicago", as well as appearing in "Lucky Stiff" and "The Prince and the Showgirl", and more recently in "Schwartz Stories".

The creative team behind "Les Misérables", Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, also used Ruffelle's vocals as Kim while writing "Miss Saigon", the role of which went to Lea Salonga. Andrew Lloyd Webber also used her while workshopping "Sunset Boulevard" and "Whistle Down the Wind", and she took part in both at the Sydmonton Festival.

In 1994, Ruffelle was chosen to represent the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. She sang all 8 songs at the preselection, and British televoters chose Lonely Symphony to represent the UK, by televoting. It went on to come 10th at the contest in Dublin. When asked about her motivations for joining the competition, she jokingly replied that since none of the four constituent nations of the UK (Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland) had qualified for that year's football World Cup finals, it was her responsibility to try to restore some national pride.

"Lonely Symphony" was released as a single in the UK, as well as in other countries, and also appeared on her first solo album, "Fragile". "Fragile" included several songs co-written by Ruffelle, but after the relatively disappointing performance of "Lonely Symphony" in the UK charts, Virgin pulled the album release. It did come out in Japan, and later gained a limited release in Germany and other areas of Europe. Nevertheless, several singles did emerge in the UK, to little success.

Ruffelle's second album was simply entitled "Frances Ruffelle", and came out in 1998, on the small Dress Circle label. It was a change in direction, featuring stripped down, maudlin arrangements of mostly musical songs, as well as a couple of classics, original songs and covers. In 2004, she released "Showgirl" on her own label, a return to fuller arrangements, but far from a pop sound. Ruffelle also collaborated with Sam Bonner in the group, paTala, making an album called "Purify", featuring "a fusion of traditional Sanskrit chants with unique arrangements of contemporary Western beats".

She has performed at Ronnie Scott's in London to promote her albums, and a new album, "Live At Ronnie Scott's", has been recorded and mixed and is currently awaiting a release date.

Ruffelle was set to appear in a revival of the Sherman Brothers musical "Over Here!" in January 2007, alongside Donna McKechnie, Diane Langton and Richard Fleeshman, however it was postponed, and little has been heard about a potential opening date.

Ruffelle returned London's West End from the 5th of November, playing the role of Roxie Hart in Chicago. She stayed in the role until the 8th of December. This marks her third time in the role, having previously played it from late 2003 to June 2004 and for five weeks in Summer 2005. On the 5th of December were the 10th anniversary celebrations for Chicago in London and Frances performed at the special celebratory performance. Her return to Chicago marked the first time she has performed in the show in the Cambridge Theatre, having only appeared in it when it was on at the Adelphi Theatre.

In 2006 she performed in a musical based around the works of Stephen Schwartz called Schwartz Stories. In March 2008 she commenced a limited five week season in the musical, Make Me A Song.

Other performances

Frances has appeared in the films "The Wildcats of St Trinians" (1980), "Secrets & Lies" (1996) and "The Road to Ithaca" (1999, unreleased). Her TV appearances have included "P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang" (1982), "Headless" (for which she also composed music), and "An Audience With Ricky Martin" (singing 'A Little Fall Of Rain' from "Les Misérables"). She has also featured in the Sky One TV series "Dream Team", playing the role of Dawn Daniel-Spears.

Personal life

Frances married Trevor Nunn's co-director, John Caird, and had two children, Eliza and Nathaniel. Caird also directed Frances in Children of Eden, before the couple divorced. It has been rumoured that their separation was very messy, however, in her latest New York concert, Caird was seen in the audience, sporting a Frances Ruffelle badge and T-shirt. She also had a third child, Felix, with former boyfriend Rob Manley.


Cast Recordings

* Starlight Express Original London Cast (1984)
* Les Misérables Original London Cast (1985)
* Les Misérables Original Broadway Cast (1987)
* Mack and Mabel In Concert (1988)
* Apples Original London Cast (1989)
* Children of Eden Original London Cast (1991)

Solo albums

* "Fragile" (1994)
* "Frances Ruffelle" (1998)
* "Showgirl" (2004)
* "Purify" as paTala with Sam Bonner (2005)
* "Live at Ronnie Scott's" (forthcoming)


* "Back of my Mind" (Christopher Cross album) (1988) - duets on "I Will (Take You Forever)"
* "Michael Crawford Performs Andrew Lloyd Webber" (1991) - duets on "Only You"
* "Save the Children - A Christmas Spectacular of Carols and Songs" (1992) - "I Watch You Sleeping", and featured on "Save the Children"
* "The Definitive Christopher Cross" (2001) - duets on "I Will (Take You Forever)"

External links

* [ Frances Ruffelle official website]
* [ darkestnight: the works of Alain Boubil & Claude-Michel Schönberg]

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title=UK in the Eurovision Song Contest
after=Love City Groove

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