”I can’t wait to get stuck into my first lesbian kiss,” claims Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton.
The 31-year-old has taken on the lead role of outrageous bisexual Maureen in the musical Rent, which opens at The Opera House, Blackpool on Monday before playing 14 other national dates this Autumn.
The show, which is celebrating 20 years since its first staged performance, tells the story of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York under the shadow of HIV and AIDS.
She said: “I feel very privileged to be able to play the part, I can’t wait to get going.
“Opening in Blackpool be amazing. I have some great memories of Blackpool from my younger days of going to the theatre and going to a dance company as part of my GCSE.”
She added: “I’ve never done a role like this before, and I’ll be doing my first ever lesbian kiss.
“I think it’s going to be lots of fun – acting gets you into lots of different situations and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role with Hannah Levane who plays Joanne, and building up some chemistry.
“I think I am like Maureen in some ways. I’m Cancerian, so I have the hard exterior, but I’m soft in the centre.
“My family call me Tiny Tears, because I’m so soft and I’m always whinging.
“The part of Maureen will make me take my fun and feisty side to another level.”
Natasha comes to the role after starring in the ITV2 reality-documentary series The Big Reunion, and subsequent tour, alongside her Atomic Kitten bandmates and other pop performers from the late 90s and early 2000s.
She said: “I absolutely adore singing, but acting really takes me out of my comfort zone and challenges me.
“With this play I do get the best of both worlds though, as I sing two songs, one as a protest, and the other’s a duet with Joanne, describing how she and Maureen love each other but fight like cat and dog.
“With singing a lot you have to look after your voice by doing lots of vocal exercises and by drinking the right things like hot honey and lemon.
“You’re not meant to use throat sprays because they can numb the throat and cause to you over-sing. There’s lots of tricks of the trade, but most importantly is rest and not over-doing things during the day if you have a big performance at night.”
The mum-of-three admits that touring is not always glamorous.
She said: “It’s really tough being away from home – it’s the down part to the job – but it’s what me and my family have come to expect.
“At least now with the advances in technology and social media, I’m able to call up and see their little faces.
“You can feel emotional at times, but you channel that emotion into your performances. It does help though that I have family and friends all over the country who will be coming to see me.”
Natasha, who grew up in Kensington, Liverpool, likes to keep close to her roots and lives a short distance away in Cheshire. And despite selling 10 million records worldwide with Atomic Kitten, she still finds it odd to be referred to as a celebrity.
She said: “I don’t see myself as a celebrity, I’m just mum.
“I get home, put the comfy trackies on, go for walks, and have a normal life. In the past the press have been very kind to me and I’ve been able to have the best of both worlds.”
She added: “When you’re in the public eye there can be a lot of pressure on your appearance, and I ain’t perfect – some days I think I look rough, but that’s the beauty of makeup!
“Lots of young girls ask me about my hair colour, and I say it’s pure copper, but if you’re not naturally red-headed, it won’t look right. I think the message is to be true to yourself.”
Rent is on at The Opera House, Blackpool on Monday, November 11. 7.30pm. Tickets from £24.75: www.blackpoollive.co.uk