DENISE Van Outen had already opened her new one woman show when I spoke to her and she was feeling a bit exhausted. I'm not surprised. This is her first play she has starred in and she co-wrote and performs in it throughout.
The actress and singer wanted to do something for a female audience and said she has been blown away by the reaction. She is coming to Aylesbury and Wycombe this month.
It's a pretty big thing, even for someone as experienced as Denise Van Outen, to co-write, act and sing in your début play and you can tell how much her new show, Some Girl I Used To Know means to the 39-year-old.
She said: "My reason for wanting to do it was I wanted to target a predominantly female audience- Shirley Valentine did it back in the 80s- and it seems to have done that.
"It is surprising how many people have taken the time to write hand written letters saying they relate to the character and can see themselves in the character."
The show focuses on Stephanie Canworth, who appears to have it all. She's beautiful, has a successful career, a supportive husband and she's a media darling, but it takes just one Facebook poke from an old flame to get her thinking about the past.
Denise said: "I felt there was no-one speaking out for my age group or covering that sort of character- career women doing it for themselves and I wanted to look at the question, 'Can you have it all?'
"It is about heartbreak and reminiscing, which is something we are all guilty of- looking back at the past with rose tinted spectacles, even though you may have broke up for a very good reason."
And the music has a touch of nostalgia too with 80s and 90s music. It opened at the very end of January and Denise was relived press night was out of the way. The critics had praised her for her talents but weren't particularly kind overall.
She said: "It is alright. I know my show. I know who the audience is- women like me.
"It was never going to be their cup of tea and I knew that before they even came to the show.
"It is what it says on the tin. It is a show that is at the heart of most women."
Denise has had an incredibly varied career. On stage she has been in Tell Me on a Sunday, Chicago and Legally Blonde. She started out in the spotlight as a presenter on The Big Breakfast towards the end of the 90s.
And she has also been in TV shows such as Hotel Babylon and in various films, including Run For Your Wife.
So what inspired her to write her own show? She said: "I just wanted to. I did Tell Me On a Sunday in 2003- that's all in song. It is a bit different.
"I never did a play before and there is much more you can do with the part with a one woman show.
"I had a little fleeting moment. I had lots of funny stories in me and I had wanted to get that into the play.
"A lot of the stories in the play are true but I am not going to tell you which ones."
She said she has also found it easier to knock down that "fourth wall" in theatre and talk to the audience, due to her presenting past.
Denise said: "I am a real girls girl. I don't know where this idea came from in the 90s that I was a ladette.
"I like people to share a journey with me when I am doing something like this."
It has taken about two years to get to this stage after she first suggested it to co-writer, Terry Ronald.
In that time she appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2012, and came runners up, before going on the tour. Girls Aloud star, Kimberley Walsh, also came runners up to gymnast Louis Smith.
Denise, Kimberley and 2010 Strictly winner, Kara Tointon, are putting together a dance show. She said: "I will be dancing again, I'm pleased to say. I have missed the dancing.
"I am collaborating with Kimberley Walsh and Kara Tointon. We can't say too much at the moment but we will be dancing."
Denise said she is missing her home in Kent. She has a three-year-old daughter called Betsy.
Denise and Betsy's dad- actor and singer, Lee Mead, broke up last year but it has been widely reported they have remained good friends.
She will be able to head home while she is starring in Bucks, but she said she will treat herself to one night at Stoke Park, which she loves.
Denise hopes Some Girl I Used to Know will be turned into a novel as she said she has many more stories to tell.
She said: "I like the variety of the job I have got and I take advantage of it.
"It keeps me busy, it pays the bills and keeps me out of trouble."
Some Girl I Used To Know is at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre from February 17 to 19 at 7.30pm. Tickets range from £18.90 to £27.90 from 0844 8717607 or go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury. It is on at the Wycombe Swan from February 27 to March 1 at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm Tickets are £17 to £25, with a £1.50 booking fee. To book call 01494 512000 or go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk
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