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