Elaine Paige has ample reason to boast.

There’s the gold-plated r?m?tacked with pioneering musical theatre roles.

Or the string of collaborations with the industry’s leading lights, and a personal endorsement from the Queen.

But the British performer’s explanation for her success is less self-promotion, more matter-of-fact.

A lot of it is about luck really: it really is true, Paige said by telephone from Britain ahead of performances in Sydney this weekend.

I don’t think there are any secrets. I think you just have to be lucky, to be in the right place at the right time -“ that old clich?

The philosophy has been with Paige since she brought a famously divisive first lady to life in one of musical theatre’s iconic moments almost 30 years ago.

When I first got [the role of Eva Peron in] Evita -“ all those years ago in 1978 -“ Hal Prince, who directed the piece, said to me that I would be lucky if I got three major roles like that in my entire career, Paige said.

And I thought: -˜Oh my goodness.’ It suddenly made me realise how tough it is to find fantastic roles.

Fortunately for Paige, her roll continued as lavish blockbusters set the tone in the big-spending 1980s.

I was very fortunate to be involved in the early run of modern musical theatre, along with Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber in the 1970s there, Paige said.

She took the song Memory to the masses as Grizabella in the original London production of Lloyd Webber feline-fest Cats in 1981. Roles in Chess, Anything Goes and Piaf, the musical story of French legend Edith Piaf, ensued.

More recently, Paige portrayed faded diva Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and in 1995 picked up an Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Queen for her services to musical theatre.

Paige will be looking to the past when she returns to Australia after a 20-year absence with her show Centre Stage.

It’s really a potpourri I suppose of music and songs that I have been singing over the years, she said of the Sydney Opera House show.

It’s primarily all the musicals that I performed and some that I haven’t, and just songs that I like.

Besides the Lloyd Webber-penned classics, Paige promised chestnuts from George Gershwin and Cole Porter.

It’s kind of a bit of an eclectic mix really, and I change what I do periodically. It’s not something I have been doing year in and year out.

I put together a selection of songs that I think you’ll enjoy.

The British performer hoped to see at least a few gay fans in Sydney, saying the community had supported her tremendously over the years.

It’s great that I have that wonderful support, and I hope that the gay community will turn out for me in force in Australia, as they seem to do here and in the States and Europe.

Elaine Paige performs at the Sydney Opera House on 30 September and 1 October at 8pm. For bookings call 9250 7777 or visit the Sydney Opera House website.

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