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Pia Douwes

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Douwes was born in Amsterdam, North Holland, to an arts dealer and a social worker and is the grandniece of Doris Day. Initially Douwes wanted to become a nurse for mentally handicapped children, then, she danced in a disco when she was 19 years old and realised that she wanted to dance. She went to London and searched for a dance school in the Yellow Pages. She chose the Brooking School of Ballet. Without any prior dance education, she auditioned (with a sprained ankle) and was accepted. One year later she attended a musical workshop with Susi Nicoletti and Sam Cane in Vienna. Cane is said to have told Douwes’ father at that time: “If she doesn’t become a star, I’ll hang myself!”.

In 1986, she got her first small part in the German-language premiere of Little Shop of Horrors in Vienna. More small parts followed afterwards. In 1987 she got her first part in a larger production. She was a Swing in Cats in Amsterdam. With this production she toured Russia in 1988, playing Grizabella and Jellylorum.

More parts followed, including Fantine in the original Amsterdam production of Les Misérables in 1991, but the great break through came in 1992, when the she got the title role in the world premiere of Elisabeth in Vienna, Austria. Though the Viennese papers wrote a lot of scathing criticism, such as “Munter geht die Sisi unter” (“Sisi perishes”) and they denied Douwes singing and acting talent of any kind, Douwes became (along with Uwe Kröger) an acclaimed musical star. The musical Elisabeth is today the most successful German-language musical of all-time.

Until 1994 she played Elisabeth, then followed more parts like Rizzo in Grease (Vienna) and Eva Perón in Evita in the Dutch touring production.

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