The extraordinary downsizing that began when a plump Rodney Hide first pulled on some shiny clothes and danced for the nation's entertainment two years ago has taken a disturbing new turn.
Hide, arguably far better known for his Dancing with the Stars rumba, his weight loss and his ocean swims than he is for leading a right-wing political party of marginal popularity, has agreed to become a dwarf for a Auckland private school's pantomime production of Snow White. Hide is 173cm (5ft 6in) tall but says he can act whatever height is required.
The Act leader told the Sunday Star-Times his appearance in a six- performance season with the students of Corelli School of the Arts in Browns Bay is not an election-year stunt. He is merely helping out a school that he has enthusiastically supported ever since being invited to a lunchtime performance by the students and being moved to tears. "It was like my ideal school for me, because it's so creative, so talented, so positive."
Hide happily submitted to having beard and whiskers glued to his face and posing with the show's 15-year-old star, Maddison Turner, for the Star-Times, but he has yet to see his script and was even a little shaky on the name of his character. "It's um, Butter . . . ? Is it Butterhuff?" (It is "Butterbarr".)
Nonetheless, he has no fears about getting on stage. "The great thing about having been on Dancing with the Stars is that nothing has worried me ever since. Everything's easy after trying to dance on TV."
He believes he will have no difficulty justifying to voters in his Epsom electorate another stint prancing about in make-up under bright lights rather than more conventional political pursuits.
"I've been along to functions where there are MPs and prime ministers, and no one questions them taking the time out to sit in the audience. I happen to be on the stage."
Indeed, says Hide, his extracurricular activities have only enhanced his political gravitas.
"For nine years I did nothing but politics. For the past three I've taken on other activities and have become a much better politician and MP as a consequence. It's made for a more balanced person."
– Adam Dudding
* The Corelli School production of Snow White by Norman Robbins runs from June 25-29.
- Sunday Star Times