THE TIMES

"ALAN JACKSON CALLS TINA ARENA:

Tina Arena, 33, lives in Melbourne and has the lead role in Notre Dame De Paris, which opened this week at London's Dominion Theatre.

Alan Jackson: I apologise for starting like this, but what name could be more perfect for a singer? Midway between Suzie Stadium and Ophelia Concert Hall. Is it an invention?

Tina Arena: What's that doll? The surname? No, not at all. It's real! I mean, really real! Italian in origin and, though not quite "Smith" not at all uncommon where I come from. Just ask my sisters Nancy Arena and Sylvana Arena. There's your proof.

Alan Jackson: Does that mean you were born-to-be-showbiz?

Tina Arena: No way! I wasn't some brat, if anything, I was a very cheery, optomistic child. Healthy. Not a lot of hang ups, always smiling. Knew that I wanted this career from very early on. Wasn't ever the coolest kid on the block , but knew what would make me happy in life. Which was doing what I'm doing now.

Alan Jackson: You broke through on an Australian TV show, Young Talent Time, how come you survived on it
for seven whole years?

Tina Arena: I won three weeks running and they had this great reaction to me. So I was asked if I would like to become a regular and, I mean, which kid is going to say no? It was great training, performing to an audiance of five or six million, week in, week out.

Alan Jackson: You first came to Britain's attention with the hit single Chains, in 1996. Now you're hitting the West End with this imported show. Already, it's sold millions of tickets and millions of albums in French-speaking territories. Do you think that it's a cert that we'll fall as hard for the translated version?

Tina Arena: Let's be honest, mate, there are no dead certs in this business. But it's a beautiful show - the story's timeless - so if the planets are correctly aligned, we just might have a hit on our hands.

Alan Jackson: If all goes well with the show, you'll be in London for a while. Then Broadway becomes a possibility. It could be some time bofore you get back to that new house you've just bought in Melbourne.

Tina Arena: I know. But that's life. I did have a base in Los Angeles, but I was hardly ever there and so I sold it again. Maybe I'll put down some roots in London - it's cool, creative, cosmopolitan... You all speak the same lingo!!

Alan Jackson: Is there anything you are homesick for?

Tina Arena: Besides specific people, just a jar of Vegemite, but I'm told you can get it in the supermarkets over here now, and believe me I'm going to be looking!"