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Denise Van Outen's Blondes Ambition

The popular stage and television personality takes the Edinburgh Fringe by storm with her new solo show. logo
Denise Van Outen
(© NBC)
In the past few years, Denise Van Outen has become a household name around the world, from her stage work in Chicago, Tell Me on a Sunday and Rent: Remixed to her television appearances on Any Dream Will Do (through which she met her now-husband, Lee Mead), I'd Do Anything, and NBC's Grease: You're the One That I Want Now, she makes her Edinburgh Fringe debut in the solo show, Blondes (aka Basildone Blonde) at the Udderbelly. Part cabaret, part theater, part stand-up, the show pays tribute to such angel-haired divas as Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Dusty Springfrield, Doris Day and Duffy. Here's what Van Outen had to say to's Theo Bosanquet about the show and her career.

TB: How did Blondes come about?
DV: I'd been toying with the idea of doing another one woman show for a couple of years, because I had such a good time doing Tell Me on a Sunday. Then a few months back I was reading an article by Jackie Clune, who I worked with on that show, and it reminded me of her great humor and brilliant writing. So I met up with Jackie for lunch at the Ivy 00 very showbiz! -- and I was telling her about an idea I'd had for a show celebrating iconic blondes. Jackie then suggested that I do it in a personal context, telling stories about how I came to discover these women and why they mean so much to me.

TB: How would you describe the show?
DV: In terms of style, it's a piece of theater that's got a bit of audience participation; I hate to say stand-up, because I'm not doing stand-up, though it is a comedy and hopefully it will make people laugh. It's a feel-good show and it's got some great songs in it, most of which the audience will know -- and they're more than welcome to join in with me if they want!

TB: Who's your ultimate blonde?
DV: People always ask me who I identify as my favorite blonde, but there are different elements to each one. That said, I think the main thing I've discovered through my research for the show is that we blondes all have certain things in common: we all go to extremes and we all love the attention that being blonde grants us -- we're all complete attention seekers! I did actually go red for a short period of time, because I wanted to get away from the blonde thing in terms of my public perception. But now when I look back, it never suited me. I just wasn't a red-headed woman. I'm blonde through and through and whatever that may mean to various people, let it be.

TB: How does it feel to be premiering the show at the Edinburgh Fringe?
DV: I've been to the city many times, but I've never actually been to the festival before. I'm planning to see as many shows as I can and embrace the whole experience. Everyone's been asking me if I'm nervous, but I'm not really -- partly because I feel like we've got a great little show to show off. And I can't wait to meet people who are just as excited about their projects as I am about mine.

TB: What are you plans for the show after the Edinburgh?
DV: I'd like to bring it o London, but I'd also like to tour with it. The whole reason I wanted to do it was because I liked the idea of going out and about with it; touring's something I haven't yet done and I think it'd be great.

TB I understand you're also running a Master Class for young people?
DV: Yes, immediately after the festival, I'm coming back to London to run an Alliance & Leicester Master Class, offering advice to young people on how to get into the entertainment industry. I've been working professionally since I left school, so I feel there's a lot of advice I can pass on. And hopefully, being fresh from the Edinburgh experience, I'll have another string to the bow and be able to share my experiences of that as well. My general advice for people looking to break into the industry is always to go out and try to get direct experience -- and get out there and meet as many people as you can.

TB: What's the best advice you've ever been given?
DV: My mentor at theater school was Sylvia Young, and to this day she's still the person I turn to if I need advice about the industry. She always said to me: "The most important thing is to be nice to people, be a team player and work for/with the team." That's something I've always tried to maintain because people that I worked with 10 years ago may now be running the networks, and people don't forget. That's one of the key pieces of advice that I've always tried to apply: just always be nice to everybody.

TB: Where would you like to be in 10 years?
DV: Well, hopefully by then I'll have a nice family. So, splitting my time between being a mother and, I don't know, there are all sorts of possibilities work-wise. I hope to be slightly more involved on the creative side, but I want to keep doing all of it: stage, TV, everything. As long as people employ me, I'll likely go along with it!

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