She sounds far more State-side than Clyde-side these days but Sheena Easton is just as feistily charismatic and ‘in tune’ as she was when she appeared on The Big Time, TV’s first reality music show, back in 1980.
Thirty seven years on, we meet in the stunning surroundings of Drury Lane’s Theatre Royal where Sheena, who looks pretty stunning herself in a clingy floral number and patent nude heels, is about to open in a revival of the iconic tap-dancing musical, 42nd Street.
For all her hit records – 9 to 5, Modern Girl, For Your Eyes Only and the rest, platinum albums, Grammy awards, Las Vegas residencies and collaborations with superstars such as Kenny Rogers and the late Prince – Sheena is making her West End debut in 42nd Street and couldn’t be more excited about it.
“There are few shows I’d consider changing my life for but this is one of them,” she says. “Musicals don’t get much bigger or better than 42nd Street. I remember seeing a production of it some years ago in Los Angeles with Millicent Martin playing Dorothy Brock, the role I’m taking on. I can remember thinking then that one day I’d love to play her – and now I am.”
Yet if the chance to play Dorothy in London had come just a few years ago, Sheena says she would have turned it down because of her children, son Jake (22) and daughter Skylar (21), who she adopted when both were babies.
“When you’re in something like 42nd Street, your whole life has to be about doing the show because you’re doing eight performances a week and you have to stay focused and fit.
“I’ve always worked around my kids and practically stopped working altogether when they were teenagers because I felt they needed me at home. Now it’s different because they’re grown up and living their own lives – Jake has a job while Skylar is at university.
“When the prospect of coming to London to do 42nd Street first came up, we talked as a family and they agreed it would be a great thing for me to do. Naturally they’ll come and visit, although I won’t have much time for sightseeing.
“All things considered, the timing, the show and the role couldn’t be more perfect; there aren’t that many great musical roles for a woman of my age (57) and Dorothy Brock is one of them.”
We can’t finish without asking Sheena about Prince who, of course, passed away last year, and with whom she collaborated so successfully in the Eighties.
“He was – and still is – the most respected musician of my generation,” she says. “He has been described as iconic, innovative, controversial, unique, charismatic and one of the driving forces of music for the last four decades. He was all of those, but he was also warm and generous, gentle and kind and when he chose you as a friend, you were blessed.
"I hadn’t seen so much of him since Jake and Skylar arrived in my life. I couldn’t hang out with him all night with two children at home but I’ll always cherish the times we spent together making music.”
- Words by Alison James
- For tickets visit www.42ndstreetmusical.co.uk