Pint-sized per­former,

The West End star still thanks her lucky stars that Evita Peron was short, writes Vicky Roach

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - PLANNER -

One might ar­gue that Elaine Paige’s long and il­lus­tri­ous mu­si­cal theatre ca­reer boiled down to one happy “ac­ci­dent”.

Re­flect­ing on her 50 years on stage ahead of the re­lease of I’m Still Here, the film ver­sion of Paige’s an­niver­sary con­cert at Lon­don’s Royal Al­bert Hall, the star of Evita, Cats and Chess says that for most of her early pro­fes­sional life, her diminu­tive stature (1.49m) was an ob­sta­cle.

“It cer­tainly held me back in be­com­ing a se­ri­ous actress, a straight actress, which is what I thought I wanted to do,’’ Paige says. “I just couldn’t get the roles be­cause I was too small. When they were cast­ing me along­side the men, the dis­par­ity in height was such it looked ridicu­lous.”

Mu­si­cal theatre pro­duc­ers proved more flex­i­ble, re­calls the 67-year-old, es­pe­cially when they were pre­sented with a triple threat (ac­tor/singer/dancer) such as her­self.

“In those days, there weren’t so many of us, so I stood out.”

Paige made her West End de­but in the 1968 pro­duc­tion of Hair, but when it came to land­ing a cov­eted lead role, size was still an is­sue.

“I’d of­ten get down to the last two or three ladies for what­ever show it was and then I wouldn’t get the job,” she says. So the fact that Eva Peron, the real-life sub­ject of An­drew Lloyd Web­ber and Tim Rice’s 1978 mu­si­cal Evita, hap­pened to be just 1.57 m was won­der­fully serendip­i­tous. ELAINE PAIGE: I’M STILL HERE

Elaine Paige in a scene from I’m Still Here.

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