Holden Shimmies in for Modern Millie Sneak PeekDate: 7 July 2003
At a press conference to launch the new West End production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Amanda Holden gave a sneak preview of the tiny red dress she'll be wearing in the title role of the 2002 Tony winning musical when she leads the London cast into the Shaftesbury Theatre from 11 October (with press night on 21 October). She's also becoming a redhead for the role - but in wig only.
Holden, 32, told Whatsonstage.com that she's already in training for one of the most demanding roles she's ever played: "I've been taking singing lessons, tap and ballet - I'm also seeing a personal trainer three times a week, and taking tennis lessons, but those are for me!" She already knows how to do the Charleston that is required of her in the show: "I learnt it from my grandmother when I was five or six."
The performer, best known for her TV appearances and frequently in the public eye over the last year thanks to a well-publicised split from her husband Les Dennis, is hoping to put her personal difficulties behind her -- "My personal life is really quite boring" - and get on with the show. Refuting a rumour that went around that she had been planning to re-locate to Los Angeles and begin a career in film there, she said, "I'm not brave enough to sit out there and wait; I've got a manager there, but you need an invitation to work there. There are enough English actresses working there already."
Contracted to star in the show for just under a year, it brings her back to the musical theatre where she last played Liesl - "I was 16 going on 23!" - in the last touring revival of The Sound of Music that played a brief season at the old Sadler's Wells Theatre in a production that starred Liz Robertson as Maria and Christoper Cazenove as von Trapp. She has also sung and danced in plenty of pantomimes.
When the call came for Millie, she was flown out to New York to audition, and found herself subjected to four gruelling days of singing and dancing and acting before she was invited to appear in front of "twelve lovely but frightening people!" The director, Michael Meyer, wasn't there because he was filming in Vancouver, so a tape was made for him. When she left New York to go on to a holiday in Barbados, she called her agent from the airport at Miami, and says: "I realised that if it was good news, I would have no one to tell; but if it was bad news, there was no bar! In fact, there was no news - the tape was sent to the director but the airline thought it was a suspicious package and it had been blown up! They'd probably watched it! But luckily the producers had made a copy, so he got to see it in the end".