Not every actress gets to play the Queen Mother's back. 'It's easy. Just put on a tiara, a fur stole and a Hartnell frock. Actually, it isn't a Hartnell really. . . Paul Farnsworth ran up a little number for me.'

Happily, for all concerned in What a Performance, Marilyn Cutts (right) is doing rather more than just standing around with her back to the audience. She is also playing the mother of Sid Fields, Britain's most highly paid popular performer back in the Thirties and Forties. 'He was like Eric Morecambe times six. I have been told that Sid's mother had a bigger bosom, but it's a bit late to do much about that.'

These days, it's rare to see Cutts in the chorus. Being in the original line-up of Fascinating Aida put paid to that. Not that she's just a singer who branched out. Anyone who saw her hilarious Despina in Music Theatre London's Cosi Fan Tutte will attest to the fact that she is a formidable actress as well. 'I used to sing in church and school choirs and played the piano from the age of seven. I began going to the theatre when I was 12, saw John Dexter's production of The Royal Hunt of the Sun and was mesmerised. Then I was taken to see his production of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden. That was it. I was hooked.'

She likes roles with responsibility. 'Perhaps Music Theatre London will stage Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for me. That would be fun.'

'What a Performance' opens tomorrow at the Queen's Theatre (071-494 5040)

(Photograph omitted)