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. She was also active in other areas; she sang and spoke the leading part of the Dutch version in the movies Pocahontas 1&2. Additionally she did the gala evenings In love with Musical along with her colleagues Uwe Kröger, Marika Lichter and Viktor Gernot. In 1999 she played Velma Kelly in the Dutch premiere of Chicago. But Douwes went back to her roots and played the leading part of Elisabeth again in the Dutch and German premieres of the musical. After all in all 900 performances as the Austrian empress she went back to Holland in February 2002 to take along with Dutch musical stars Simone Kleinsma and Stanley Burleson part in the Broadway musical Fosse. In March 2003 she got the chance to play Milady de Winter at the world premiere of the Dutch musical 3 Musketiers (The Three Musketeers).
The musical was later recorded (with her) and is now available on DVD. In 2004 she played again Velma Kelly in Chicago. But this time she performed in the West End of London and then on Broadway, being the first Dutch actress to take a leading role in a production on Broadway. Back again in Holland she played Clara in Passion. Then she went back to Germany to play again Milady de Winter at the German premiere of 3 Musketiere in Theater des Westens in Berlin. She played the part until October 30, 2005. Pia Douwes is the most famous European musical actress alongside Ute Lemper.
She took part at over 25 CD productions and was a duet partner of José Carreras. In 2007, she was seen as a judge on "Op zoek naar Evita", a Dutch reality show. The winner will be cast as Eva Perón, a role Douwes played over a decade ago, in a new Dutch production of Evita. In 2008, Pia will don the turban as the infamous Norma Desmond in the new Dutch touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard, while also being a judge on the German reality show 'Ich Tarzan du Jane' in which they will be looking for both Tarzan and Jane to star in the new German production of Tarzan. Pia is the first actress to play Norma in more than three years, with the last production being a 2005 concert version in Australia, which starred Judi Connelli. In September 2010, she will take the part of Killerqueen in Utecht in the musical We Will Rock You. Read more on Last.fm.
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