The pounds 5m West End musical Piaf is to close after just six months because its star Elaine Paige has quit on doctor's orders.

Bookings slumped after the former Evita singer's exit , and the final curtain will fall on June 18.

Paige won critical acclaim as legendary French singer Edith Piaf but doctors advised her to leave because the demanding role was damaging her voice.

Staff at the office of Bill Kenwright, the producer, insisted Piaf had been booked to run for only six months and was not finishing early.

'It is running now with the understudy. It was only ever meant to run until June 18,' said Richard Temple, the tour manager.

But a spokeswoman at the Piccadilly Theatre said they had an option to extend. If Paige had stayed on as the 'Little Sparrow', the musical would probably have run throughout the summer.

The show, directed by Sir Peter Hall, had been staged as a vehicle for her. There were also plans to take it to Broadway.

Cameron Mackintosh's Carousel closed on Saturday.

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