Emma Barton is best known for her role as Honey Mitchell in the hit soap Eastenders. But prior to landing this part in 2005, Emma starred in the drama Spooks and featured in a variety of stage musicals, including: Grease, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Loveshack. Since leaving Albert Square, Barton has returned to her first love of musicals, following a show stopping turn on BBC One's Children In Need. Since March, she has been touring the UK as Roxie Hart in the hit show Chicago, which arrived in Manchester last night. We caught up with her to find out more.



You have numerous high profile shows on your CV but what attracted you to the role in Chicago?
It’s one of my all time favourite musicals, but what really attracted me to the role of Roxie is that she is such a strong female character and there isn’t a role quite like her in musical theatre. There’s lots of singing, dancing and quite a bit of comedy too. So when I heard about the auditions I said I had to have this role and luckily after 4 auditions I got it!

Did you have to undertake any special training or routines before starting with the show?
Not at all, I had three weeks which isn’t long for a show like this with the rest of the cast, being put through our paces even aching quite a bit due to the physical demands of the show, but it’s all been worth it.

What do you think it is that makes Chicago such a commercial success?
The show has been running for over 12 and part of its success is how its kept fresh by using different celebrities.I also think it’s quite a unique show in the fact the the band is so obviously on stage and the music and choreography is so timeless. When you think of Chicago most people think of the black set, the black costumes but as a performer it really is one of the most vibrant shows I’ve ever been part of.

Apart from Gary Wilmot/Jimmy Osmond who you have worked alongside in the show, who would you choose to play Billy Flynn & why?
George Clooney (Laughs) but to be honest there have been a lot of Billy’s in the past and having worked with both Gary and Jimmy I think I have lucked out and worked with the best.

In past interviews you have described yourself as being quite clumsy, has that manifested itself on stage yet?
That was when describing any traits between my character Honey in Eastenders and myself, to be honest it’s more about dropping things and accidently bumping into things, luckily that hasn’t happened on stage yet, but I am extra careful in the wings and backstage.

What do you enjoy/hate most about touring?
What I love most is performing at theatres I have never been to before and seeing new places. and spending two weeks there. I hate packing, I’m just not very good at knowing what I should take, at the moment my car is full of stuff, also I miss my family and friends but the company is really caring and supportive and feels like a little touring family.

Many actors have their own set rituals and routines before any show do you?
(Laughs) I do everything in order depending on how I do it on the 1st dress rehearsal so for Chicago I put on my make-up and apply it the same every night, then it’s the costume, and wig...I suppose that sounds really mad? It would really throw me to do it out of the order now, but i don’t do anything like Madonna who prays before every show.

What was the last piece of theatre that you enjoyed?
I have been quite busy, but the last show was Little Shop of Horrors in the West End with Sheridan Smith, the show was fantastic I really enjoyed it.

Who do you admire most in the industry and why?
Ever since seeing her in Educating Rita when I was a teenager, I have admired the career of Julie Walters, to have a career that spans out like hers would be amazing. She lives quite close to me and I often try to keep an eye out for her when I am out shopping in Guildford, she seems from her interviews one of the most down to earth and talented people in the industry.

Finally what are you most looking forward to, when you come to Manchester?
Shopping (laughs) I’ve heard Manchester is amazing for shopping. I’m not really a Bar or Club person but I enjoy finding really nice restaurants, so I’m excited about finding some really nice ones. I also like taking the red tour buses and sightseeing too.



Emma Barton was speaking to John Roberts.

Chicago
, is currently on tour and it arrived in Manchester at the Palace Theatre last night and runs until 7th November.