Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton has signed on to star in the 20th anniversary tour of the smash-hit Tony Award winning Broadway musical, Rent. Ten's Laura Delaney caught up with the star to find out more.
RTÉ TEN: Tell us a bit about Rent?
Natasha Hamilton: Rent is set in the East Village of New York. It's about a group of friends that have a journey. It's kind of taking a year in the life of the group of friends. It's about how their relationships evolve and how they come through tragedy and triumph.
What about your character?
I play the part of Maureen. She's a feisty lesbian. She's really ballsy and stands up for what she believes in. She doesn't take any prisoners. She also has a very tempestuous relationship with her girlfriend, Joanne, which brings a lot of funny scenes on stage between the two of them. They're always bickering and always at loggerheads because they are both two really strong characters.
Did you have any reservations about playing Maureen?
No! I knew the story of Rent. I'd watched it once before. Maureen is such an iconic role. I love the fact that the role does take me out of my comfort zone. I've never kissed a girl, especially on stage. Also, she has the comedy element which I've never done in theatre before. Previously, I played Mrs. J in Blood Brothers, which is a total departure to what I am doing with Maureen. I get to play a character at the total opposite end of the spectrum. For me, it was a no-brainer. I was like 'yes please, bring it on.'
Maureen was previously played by Nicole Scherzinger and Denise Van Outen. Have you got any advice from them?
No. I haven’t got Denise's number or anything. I've seen Nicole Scherzinger performance of Maureen on Broadway. I've also seen Idina Menzel. Each of the women brought their own bit of spunk to the character. Hopefully I'll be able to that as well.
Do you feel under any pressure being a leading lady? There's always pressure when you take on such iconic roles because you want to do it justice and you know that there are so many people who have come before you. But, I kind of thrive off the fear. I feel like I'm learning so much on my acting journey.
You are working alongside Rory Taylor from the reality show Superstar. What is he really like?
He's absolutely lovely. He's really nice and always smiling. He has one of the most amazing voices that I've ever heard. It's so effortless to him when he's singing. I met all the cast at the same time and everyone was so nice. We're going to have lots of fun on tour.
What can fans expect from the show?
It takes fans on a journey. We are talking about relevant issues. We are talking about love, loss, gay relationships, touching on HIV and AIDS. These are topics that may have been taboo in the past, but now a subject topic we're more comfortable discussing. People will be laughing and people will be crying. Also, it's Rent In Concert so the band will be live on stage with us. If people want to, they can get up on their seats and can stand-up and dance and have a real good time.
We recently saw you reuniting with Atomic Kitten. What was that like?
It was quite weird how quickly we all slotted back in to place. I hadn't see Kerry in 12 years. The minute she walked into my house we gave each other a hug. We were gabbin' with each other the week before. The chemistry was instantly there, which was a relief. Myself and Liz McClaron weren’t really sure how it was going to go, but it all worked out well in the end.
Can we officially rule out another reunion in the future?
Yes! We've got all of our Big Reunion commitments until the end of the year. Obviously Kerry is pregnant now, but we will still be doing gigs and we're in talks about a lot of other projects.
You've ticked so many boxes already in your career. Anything left on your to-do list?
I would love to do my own live concert with a full orchestra. Maybe somewhere like The Royal Albert Hall. I'd also love to act in a crime drama. When I was younger I wanted to be either a singer or a spy. So to be a spy on the telly would be amazing.
Finally, Christmas is fast approaching. What are your plans? I'm literally working up until December 21. I'm just going to dedicate all of my time to the kids. We're going to play games and go for nice walks and eat lots of amazing food. We can't wait to eat lots of sweets and cosy up by the fire. I'm looking forward to having a really chilled Christmas.
Rent 20th Anniversary Concert takes place onNov 21 at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Tickets from €28.