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My Theatre Firsts: Denise Van Outen

''Some Girl I Used To Know'' comes to the West End from 22 August

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Following a successful UK tour, Denise Van Outen brings her show Some Girl I Used To Know to the Arts Theatre from 22 August - 13 September.

We caught up with Denise to find out some of her Theatre Firsts.

What was the first show you went to?

It was a school trip to The Mousetrap. The first musical would have been another school trip to see Starlight Express.

When did you first decide to become an actor?

It was when I went to Sylvia Young; before that I'd only danced and been to dance school. Suddenly lots of kids around me at the school had done EastEnders and Casualty and things like that. My first film was when I played Goldilocks in a TV film in France when I was about 12.

What was the first piece of advice you were given in your acting career?

Probably from my mentor Sylvia Young. I enjoyed every aspect of performance, and wanted to do all of singing, dancing and acting. Most people are told to focus on one thing but she said if you can do all three you'll always be working. I've done that, and never stopped working through my career.

What was your first professional role?

Young Eponine in Les Miserables when I was 11 - I was in the second cast, it was still a new show and had only recently opened at the Palace. I remember going to see it when it first opened and I really wanted to be in it.

How did you react to your first review?

It would have been a local review for something like in a panto. It's like anything – you can get ten good ones and you only remember the bad one. It's the same throughout your career. You soon realise if people are coming to see it and buying tickets, one person's opinion isn't the be all and end all.

Who was the first actor you were inspired by?

Julie Walters, because I like comedy and she's played some amazing comedic roles. I especially remember her doing Mrs Overall. But she's one of those actresses who can cross over and do drama just as well. Another is Amanda Redman - I think she's amazing.

What is the first word that comes into your head when I say theatre?

"Escapism". For the audience but also for the performer.

What is the first thing you will do when your run in Some Girl I Used to Know comes to an end?

It's a relatively short run at the Arts Theatre in London, so it's not enough of an excuse to then go on holiday! I'll focus on what to do with it next. I'd like to go back on tour as there's some places I haven't been with it that I'd really like to visit – like Manchester, Brighton or Cardiff.

If you could choose any role to take on next, what is the first that comes to mind?

Having been in Les Mis already, and being a lover of more "character" acting – I'd love to play Madame Thenardier! I'd like to black out a tooth and play a real character role! I don't think people would expect that from me.

Some Girl I Used to Know opens at the Arts Theatre on 22 August