WEST END’S SE­CRET STAR

Ac­tress Mazz Mur­ray has starred in many West End shows. But by day she helps run kosher restau­rants.

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - FRANCINE WHITE

SIT­TING A cou­ple of tables away from us in The De­lau­nay in the heart of Lon­don’s the­atre land, is Home­land star Damian Lewis. Most peo­ple are sneak­ing covert glances at him. What the other din­ers don’t re­alise is that they have show-busi­ness roy­alty in their midst, even though she’s not nec­es­sar­ily recog­nis­able in the street.

“One of the most won­der­ful things about be­ing in mu­si­cals is that you get to be a su­per­star for two hours and then you lit­er­ally can be in the su­per­mar­ket the next morn­ing. It’s best of both worlds be­cause you get your ego mas­saged and have a to­tal pri­vate life. It’s prob­a­bly bet­ter than be­ing recog­nised.”

So says Mazz Mur­ray, who has been a star in the West End ever since she donned a PVC cat suit to play the Killer Queen in We Will Rock You. She was in the show for nine years only leav­ing when she was seven months preg­nant with her first son.

Show­busi­ness is in her blood, as the daugh­ter of leg­endary song­writer Mitch Mur­ray, whose many hits in­clude How Do You Do It and You Were Made For Me for Gerry and The Pace­mak­ers and Pa­per Lace’s Billy Don’t Be A Hero. Her mum, the stage and screen ac­tress Graz­ina Frame was in many movies and toured with The Stones and Billy Fury be­fore be­ing the Golden Shot girl on the pop­u­lar quiz show and then ap­pear­ing in ev­ery single episode of the The More­cambe & Wise Show. She was also in the original cast of 42nd Street at the Drury Lane The­atre. Just for good mea­sure, Mazz’s sis­ter, Gina is also a mu­si­cal the­atre star and just about to head off to Sin­ga­pore to play Mamma Mor­ton in Chicago. The sis­ters also have a band, Woman, whose many gigs have in­cluded sup­port­ing Earth Wind & Fire on tour and play­ing with Billy Ocean.

“I had the most fab­u­lous child­hood. Re­ally won­der­ful,” says Mur­ray, “We would come home from school, some­times we’d hop in the car and go with mum to Drury Lane and be in her dress­ing room for the evening, be­ing made up by all the dancers and end­ing up look­ing like Lily Sav­age. Or we would sit out front and watch the show.”

She’s very proud that leg­endary co­me­dian Bob Monkhouse was her god­fa­ther: “When my mum was preg­nant with me she was work­ing with Bob on The Golden Shot. When she found out she was preg­nant Bob said ‘Let me be the god­fa­ther.’ He was bril­liant, we used to get the most sen­sa­tional car­toons sent to us and he’d write us po­ems, I’ve kept ev­ery­thing.”

Mur­ray is cur­rently ap­pear-

Dad wrote hit songs, Mum toured with the Stones

ing as Tanya in Mamma Mia at the Novello The­atre in Lon­don, which is apt, as her fa­ther is the win­ner of two Novello Awards: “I’m un­be­liev­ably proud of him. So proud. Now I hear my ba­bies singing his songs, it’s the best thing in the world. It blows me away.”

Mitch Mur­ray is the founder of the So­ci­ety of Dis­tin­guished Song­writ­ers, a very ex­clu­sive or­gan­i­sa­tion with a mem­ber­ship of fewer than 50 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Les Reed, Gary Bar­low, Her­bie Kret­zmer, Tim Rice, Gary Kemp, Guy Cham­bers, Brian May and Bjorn and Benny from Abba. “Gina and I did a mash up of Av­enues & Al­ley­ways and Billy Don’t Be A Hero at the So­ci­ety’s ladies’ night. Dad pro­duced us do­ing it, he’s never pro­duced us be­fore, never sat in on us singing a song, es­pe­cially one he wrote. It was quite daunt­ing ac­tu­ally!”

Her par­ents sep­a­rated when Mur­ray was just five years old but re­mained good friends. She and her sis­ter were brought up in a tra­di­tional way. “Look we’re Jewish and show­biz, we’re in it for the buf­fet,” she jokes. Then adds “Be­ing Jewish in my in­dus­try, it’s all part of be­ing in a club, it’s not about how deep your faith is but a recog­ni­tion of hav­ing a com­mon ground with the peo­ple you are around and work with.”

She mar­ried Is­raeli Oren Arush in 2009 in a fab­u­lous cer­e­mony at stately home, Lu­ton Hoo. It was a true show­busi­ness wed­ding with Brian May play­ing a spe­cially adapted ver­sion of Love of My Life and Les Reed and Barry Ma­son rewrit­ing the lyrics of their hit Delilah for the cou­ple. “I was in We Will

Rock You, when I met Oren. Brian was my boss along with Ben El­ton and Roger Tay­lor for many years. They ad­vised about my re­la­tion­ship, they knew ev­ery­thing that was go­ing on all the time. Oren pro­posed and, like any­one else, I in­vited my bosses! Ben had to wear

a yarmulke which he hadn’t done for many years,” she laughs.

“I wanted to sing Love of My Life.

Brian said “I’ll re-write it be­cause it’s ac­tu­ally a sad love song, I’ll play it for you”, I sang it while Brian played as our first dance.”.

Food played an in­te­gral part of the cou­ple’s ro­mance: “Af­ter com­ing off stage, I’d go to the cof­fee shop Oren was man­ag­ing for a tuna sand­wich. He would then make me a beau­ti­ful tuna and smoked salmon plat­ter. We started dat­ing! Very soon into us dat­ing I saw what a fab­u­lous man he was and what an honourable man, I sug­gested we go into busi­ness to­gether be­cause I felt we were both grown up enough that if it didn’t work out we would be friends.”

Ten years on, Oren and the fam­ily run three kosher restau­rants: The Kitchen in Edg­ware and two branches of The Kan­teen in Brent Cross and Bushey.

“He un­der­stands that busi­ness and that mar­ket. It is our fam­i­lyrun restau­rant and we are very proud of it and our clien­tele are very pre­cious to us. The Jewish neigh­bour­hood has been un­be­liev­ably loyal to us and they want some­where won­der­ful to go.”

The cou­ple have two chil­dren, Zac aged six and Char­lie nearly three who both at­tend Jewish schools in North Lon­don. The fam­ily visit Oren’s home town, Tel Aviv, at least three times a year and Mur­ray is keen that her chil­dren grow up bilin­gual in English and He­brew.

“We do a lot of High Holy Days there. I love Is­rael, it’s a mas­sive part of my life. Is­raelis are very vi­va­cious, dra­matic. Tel Aviv air­port is not dis­sim­i­lar to my dress­ing room! I’ve seen duller au­di­tions!”

“Ev­ery time I go to Is­rael, I get my won­der­ful mother-in­law to teach me some­thing else to cook. I want to be able to feed my kids all that won­der­ful Moroc­can and Per­sian food at home so when we are in Is­rael it is home from home.”

Just be­fore we leave, Mur­ray tells a story of when she and the cast of We Will Rock You played the Queens’ Ju­bilee at Buck­ing­ham Palace. “I’d got on the wrong coach, and ended up walk­ing down the Mall in my PVC cat suit. We stayed for the gala fi­nale af­ter our spot. The Queen and Prince Charles came to meet everyone. Prince Charles leaned into me and said ‘The boys and I saw you walk­ing down the Mall!’ They’d been in the car be­hind me!”

Pure show­biz!

Tick­ets to see Mazz Mur­ray in ‘Mamma Mia’ at the Novello The­atre

In Is­rael I get my mother in law to teach me to cook

With Brian May of Queen at the Queen’s Ju­bilee

Mazz as the Killer Queen

As Tanya in Mamma Mia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.