She is currently playing pole dance teacher Gabby in The Naked Truth; a Calendar Girls style comedy/drama which highlights how friendship can occur in the most unlikely of places. WOS Northwest caught up with Abi Titmuss to discuss the play, roles she yearns to play and the cult of celebrity.
Acting is relatively new to you, when did you realise that you wanted to have a go?
It’s not new to me- I’m actually ten years trained. At University I was studying as a nurse and just began to realise that I was doing the wrong thing. I joined the drama club at university in 1995, so it has been quite a while! I started doing part-time acting classes for three years, so I would be at college from Monday to Friday, and working night shifts at the ward at weekends. I just did as much as I could. Now, being able to be part of productions like The Naked Truth is a dream come true!
You got great reviews for Two Way Mirror. What did you learn about the craft of acting from that experience?
I learnt a lot- it was one hell of job, but such a beautiful piece that I just couldn’t say no. Jay Benedict who I co-starred with was absolutely wonderful. I also learnt a lot about Marilyn Monroe and was fortunate enough to win a Fringe Report Award for my role.
What attracted you to the role of Gabby in The Naked Truth? Tell us a bit about her…
She is just such a lovely character. As a single parent and teacher of pole dancing classes, she helps five women learn to pole dance. There is a goal for doing this, which is revealed towards the end of the show. She is a very sweet, yet strong character, who has her own secrets to deal with. Gabby is very fit and a great dancer and has her own routine at the end, which my director told me had to be ‘extraordinary!’ I’ve been doing weight training and work at the gym 6 hours a week for 3 months and it’s lovely to be able to do something that is graceful and elegant, yet fun.
What do you enjoy about being in the play?
There are two things mainly. I have been so lucky with all the girls in the company- we have such a laugh on and off stage and get on so well. Last night, Lorraine Hodgson left us all boxes of chocolates as we had all seemed a bit tired. Caring thoughts like that just make it so enjoyable. I also love being on stage in front of audiences who enjoy what we are doing. We have had many standing ovations and it’s such a great feeling!
Being a celebrity, you are a marquee name but many may doubt your credentials as an actress. Does that put pressure on you for the tour?
Yes, I put pressure on myself. I understand why people may think that, especially after doing glamour modelling. I am happy to prove myself, tread the boards and know that I can do it.
What was the last thing you saw on stage that you really enjoyed and why?
I went to go and watch Derren Brown in London and that was absolutely incredible. He throws Frisbees out into the audience for people to catch. He had no idea where I was sitting and I managed to catch one- it was great! The thing I saw before that was the 24 Hour Play at the Old Vic. That was brilliant!
What type of roles would you like to take on next?
Shakespeare. Lady Macbeth is my dream role. I would also love to play the character of a nurse. Recently, I’ve been able play a nun, which is a role I’ve also wanted to try. This will be shown on BBC1 on Friday 19th June, in Hotel Babylon.
What do you enjoy the most about being a celebrity?
Being famous isn’t what I have always wanted, it just happened to me and I am very grateful for that.
And the worst?
People pointing, staring and whispering! There is an instant accessibility to you, which can make you very self-conscious.
With Susan Boyle currently in the news, do you think reality television is a good thing, considering your experiences also?
All my experiences have been amazing and a lot of fun. Love Island, for instance, was incredible. For Susan Boyle, it was wonderful at the time, a dream come true, yet at the exactly the same moment it ruined her. Being a celebrity looks like so much fun, but you really have no idea until you have experienced it yourself. You have to be emotionally strong as it is sometimes difficult to handle. I hope that she gets all the help and support that she needs. Doing the work is wonderful, but being famous is definitely an odd experience.
What are your plans when the tour is over?
Rest! I am living out of a suitcase at the moment and have only had one night a week at home since February. I already have two plays lined up for next year, and am doing films, including Frontman and Do Elephants Pray. We will see what happens.
Abi Titmuss was speaking to Rebecca Cohen.
The Naked Truth runs at the Opera House, Manchester from 8 - 10 June.
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