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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

‘Madonna dances like me, my husband says’

A chat with Tasha Leaper of the UK, one of the most recognisable Madonna impersonators.

music Updated: Mar 16, 2019 19:05 IST
Rachel  Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times
Leaper says one big change to her life is her gym routine. ‘I lift a lot of weights to maintain those “Madonna arms”.’
Leaper says one big change to her life is her gym routine. ‘I lift a lot of weights to maintain those “Madonna arms”.’

For a woman tribute artist, there’s probably no better muse than Madonna. There’s the music, of course — over three decades of chartbusters, from the 1980s ‘Like a Virgin’ and ‘Material Girl’ to the 1990s ‘Vogue’ and ‘Ray of Light’ down to ‘Music’ in 2000.

There are the costumes – cone bra, crucifix as a fashion accessory, lace bustiers and cowboy hats. And the many, many looks to choose from — blonde curls, poker-straight dark locks; all curves or all muscle, an image always impeccably controlled.

For UK tribute artist Tasha Leaper, the star of Madonna – The World’s No 1 Tribute Show, playing the Queen of Pop involves more than mimicking the look, the moves and the voice. It’s also courting generations of fans in every performance. It helps that’s she trained as a dancer for close to a decade – she knows how to work a crowd and stay in character.  

Leaper performs two concerts in Mumbai this weekend, on her first trip to India. The performer, wife and mother discusses playing the part, living a dual life and her husband’s reaction to the real Madonna.

You trained as a dancer for almost a decade. At what point did you discover your talent for playing the Queen of Pop?

A dancer’s career, as a woman, can be short. Luckily I could also sing. I used to sing ‘Papa don’t preach’ in my cabaret set in London, and someone told me I sounded like Madonna. I also watched a Madonna tribute show once and was desperate to re-choreograph it! That’s what made me think I could do it. Even as a vocalist, I never stood still for long on stage — I missed dancing. I wanted to dance as well as sing, so Madonna was the perfect tribute.

Is being Madonna on stage easier or harder than one would think? What’s the secret to being a memorable Madonna?

Anyone can look like her once they are in the correct make-up, wig and costume. I think as an ex dancer I have copied and studied her so well, it absolutely gives me an advantage. I have had many amazing comments from audience members telling me I have taken them back to their youth because I move and sound exactly like her. I love hiding behind Madonna’s personality onstage. I can be as cheeky and provocative as I want, as long as I am true to her character. My husband says that when he watches her now, he feels that she dances like me. You can’t get a better compliment than that!

What has been the most surprising change in your life after you decided to play Madonna?

Most definitely having a gym membership. I was never interested before, but I do have to keep up my fitness, when singing and dancing at the same time. It is exhausting. And I lift a lot of weights now, to keep up what I call my “Madonna arms”.

Like A Prayer is 30 years old this week. There are now about three generations of Madonna fans. How do you make they all have satisfying experiences at a concert?

My show starts with the 2005 Confessions album and takes you back through the 1990s, with songs like ‘Music’, ‘Ray of light’ and ‘Express yourself’. It closes with the early 1980s, ending with her early hit, ‘Holiday’. It is full of energetic dance routines and emotional ballads that will hopefully take the audience on a journey.

First Published: Mar 16, 2019 19:03 IST

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