Tina finds new arena

 TINY Tina Arena is taking on her biggest challenge – in London’s West End. The Australian singer will play Esmeralda in Notre Dame de Paris, which has its premieres in London in May. It could also take her to Broadway.

The musical is based on Victor Hugo’s tale of Quasimodo’s impossible love for a gypsy girl.It has been seen by two million people in Europe and Canada with another singer in the role. Arena said: “It is new, it is daunting but it is an incredibly exciting challenge”. Written by French-Canadian Luc Plamondon and Italian Ricardo Cocciante, it is being tipped to challenge another Hugo classic, Les Miserables, for world-wide success.

“What sold me on the show was the music,” Arena said. “I couldn’t get it out of my head. I was dreaming it. It is great music. This is the right thing to be a part of. It is very instinctive. It was almost made for me”.

Arena spent a year in France before landing the part. “My life changed a lot in Paris,” she said. “France has been so good to me and really embraced me. I was passionate enough to commit myself. I am so pleased I trusted my instincts.”

It came at a price, though – her marriage to her manager, Ralph Carr, broke down.

But she said: “I am better than ever. I feel I have a greater sense of self and I have been on an amazing journey. My character has been strengthened.”