Real Lives: Magical tribute night hails musical maestro Maureen

Maureen Cochrane's theatrical career spanned 70 years

Maureen Cochrane's theatrical career spanned 70 years

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AN actress and singer whose theatrical career spanned almost seven decades has marked her retirement with a surprise tribute evening.

Maureen Cochrane, who retired last year, sang in wartime concerts at the Usher Hall when she was just four years old.

She was a member of the former Madame Adeline Calder Ballet School in Regent Terrace, where she trained in ballet and tap and completed her advanced honours in both forms of dance.

The 74-year-old from Stockbridge joined the Edinburgh People’s Theatre in 1958 at the age of 21, acting in plays and dancing in pantomimes at various venues across the UK.

It was through the People’s Theatre that she met her husband – actor, director and Scottish playwright Alan Cochrane, 80, who has written six published plays, each of which Maureen has starred in.

During her time at the Edinburgh People’s Theatre, where she performed in five shows a year, Maureen also worked professionally in TV with a number of small roles in Sunday serials and programmes such as The Una McLean Show.

Maureen, who also starred in no less than 50 Fringe Festival productions, left the Edinburgh People’s Theatre in the 1990s.

Maureen and Alan starred in a musical – Into the Woods – together for the first time at the old Broughton School in 1992. Maureen never looked back and continued to do only musicals thereafter.

The final musical – Honk! – that Maureen took part in was performed at the new Broughton School last summer. Maureen played a duck called Grace.

Her nephew, David Welch, who is regional general manager for Principal Haley, based at The George Hotel, decided that he would not allow Maureen to leave the world of theatre quietly, and organised a tribute night.

It was attended by around 100 people; family and friends, as well as actors, actresses, directors and performers who worked with Maureen during her career. They sang songs that she had performed herself over the last 70 years, and there were even videos and photographs of Maureen to view.

Maureen said: “It was just the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life. It couldn’t have been more wonderful.”

The surprise took place at St Andrew’s and St George’s Church in George Street on Saturday night, with a red carpet especially for Maureen.

One of the highlights of the night involved a specially recorded song from world-renowned opera singer Gidon Saks, who Maureen worked with in Edinburgh in the early 1990s.

Amongst the guests at the event were 15 singers, several pianists, three guest speakers, one priest, 75 guests and Forth One’s Grant Stott, who presented Maureen with a lifetime achievement award.