Best known for being one fifth of Girls Aloud, Kimberley Walsh has stepped out into the spotlight to become Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical.
Having taken over from Amanda Holden to star alongside Nigel Lindsay as Shrek and Nigel Harman (below with Denise Van Outen) as Lord Farquaad, Kimberley made her debut two weeks ago to rapturous reviews. At the press night for the production at The Princes Theatre Natalie Edwards caught up with Kimberley to talk on-stage smooches, plans for a Girls Aloud musical and elocution lessons from Michael Bublé.
What’s it like having to burp and fart on demand?
It’s actually really, really fun because I was like ‘when am I ever going to get the chance to do something like this again?!’ I’m absolutely milking it dry. Whatever kind of audience you’ve got, farting will always work. I think it’s brilliant that I get cheers and wolf-whistles just for farting! It’s the easiest thing ever.
Do you ever fart in front of your boyfriend?
I tried not to for a long time – I managed it for about seven years! He’s still going strong and has never done it in front of me. It’s very impressive. He’s like, ‘oh no – you’ve brought the ogre home!’
Did you have to record your own flatulence sounds?
No. I think when Amanda did the role she chose to record it herself – the burps and the farts! I was like ‘no it’s fine! I’ll go along with whatever sound effects you’ve got’.
I heard the whole ‘pull my finger’ fart joke was dreamt up by you…
That is true. I just wondered ‘How do we make it a little bit funnier?’ I’ve got a little brother so I blame him for the inspiration.
Did your boyfriend Justin get excited by you wearing a wedding dress on-stage?
Not really. He’s like ‘oh well it’s not really a real wedding dress is it?’ I’m like, ‘you’re not supposed to think like that’.
Did Amanda send you any good luck gifts?
She sent me a gorgeous bunch of flowers and some champagne for the first night which was really, really nice of her. She also decorated the dressing room really lovely in lilac and pink. She just told me to enjoy it and have an amazing time. It is so much fun and everyone in the cast is so lovely you do leave on a high every night which is quite nice.
What did Cheryl Cole and Nicola Roberts think of Shrek when they came to see you in it?
They loved it. They were so funny as they were so excited to come and watch. I was like ‘God, the pressure is seriously on!’ But they both loved it and also text me tonight, bless them.
Was it more nervewracking performing in front of them as they’re your close friends?
No. You would think but because they are so much on my side and just willing me to do well it actually felt nice having them there.
Have you ever practised any of your lines with the Girls Aloud ladies. Did Cheryl play Shrek?
No! It’s a nice thought but no.
Is it scarier performing on-stage in Shrek or at the O2?
Do you know what, it’s a funny one. Theatre is really intimate and you cannot get away with anything so in that respect it’s probably more nervewracking to do this. Even though with the O2 it’s 20,000 people you’re with the girls and have each other and if anything goes wrong then someone will cover it up and it’s not a big deal. This is more nervewracking.
Did seeing you play the role make Cheryl and Nicole think they might like to do something in the West End?
I think that really see it as something I enjoy doing and something that I have always wanted to do. I don’t think that they would want to do it themselves but they loved watching it and really got into it. I think I’m the musical queen!
Is this the direction you want to take now?
It felt like the perfect thing to do and the perfect time to do it after our time apart. You get to be a princess but with a bit of an edge. I don’t know really. I would like to do something else in the future but I don’t know what and I’ve got nothing planned. We’ll see – there’s plenty of time!
You been doing eight shows a week – are you knackered yet?
It is really, really tiring but I’ve managed to do two weeks of eight shows a week with extra rehearsals and I’ve survived! Plus I’ve had a cold and still managed to get through it. I’m from Bradford so I think I’ll be alright.
Has there been any mishaps on-stage yet?
There have been loads of dramas already with little things going wrong which can be quite amusing. When I do my little levitation as an ogre and come back down my veil got caught in the alter and got attached. Nigel who plays Shrek just ripped it off and you just carry on. There have been a few moments but you just get on with it and it makes you laugh. Shrek’s helmet also fell in the orchestra bit right before the helmet scene.
How nervewracking was it for you to come out and take a West End show?
It was really nervewracking but I enjoyed the rehearsals so much that I was in my element. They approached me and I came to watch it and thought, ‘yeah I’d love to do that’. It was a big undertaking as it is a big part and it’s a really big challenge but I’ve enjoyed it.
Did you watch Amanda in the role before taking it?
Yeah she was brilliant. I loved it.
Has she given you any tips?
She was really good at the burping and farting. She just said to enjoy it as it’s such a brilliant part to play.
Was it hard to perfect the accent?
I kind of had what I thought was an alright American accent and I did see a dialect coach a couple of times which helped to tweek it. Hopefully I’m alright – Michael Bublé said it was good. He was like ‘Oh my God I can’t believe you’re not American!’ He came and watched it the other night and really loved it.
With a Spice Girls musical imminent does it make you think that one day you would like
Girls Aloud The Musical?
I do think a Girls Aloud musical would be pretty amazing as our songs really lend to that big extravaganza. You never know!
Would you also like to go to Hollywood?
I don’t I feel like ‘oh I want to do Hollywood’. I just feel that I always take whatever comes my way and try to make the best decisions for what I feel that I really want to do and that’s why I’m doing this and why I’ll choose whatever I do next.
What about going into soaps as you were up for the role of Maria in Coronation Street before getting into Girls Aloud?
That was a long time ago. I don’t really watch any of the soaps now. Cheryl and Nicola are obsessed with them and are always watching so I have to watch them sometimes because of them.
Do you believe in fairytale romances?
I think I do but I do like the ogre romance in Shrek as I think it’s quite sweet.
What’s on your rider?
My dressing room is full of sweets and chocolate. If anyone came in they would be like ‘how are you even getting on that stage?’ But it’s what you need for an energy rush. All the fans are so amazing as there is a little sweet shop right beside the theatre and they go there and bring me sweets everyday so I’m going to get fat basically. But I’m burning it off so I’m enjoying it!
Amanda said she lost a lot of weight doing the role – has the same happened to you?
Not yet but I have only just started out. I am eating a lot though and getting away with it! It’s all thanks to the tap number – surely that’s my work-out for the day!
How did you feeling doing your first on-stage kiss?
It was actually weird. Even though it is just a little peck it did feel very odd! I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been with Justin for so long that it was really weird. It’s not too strange when it’s Shrek as it’s just the character but it was during rehearsals! I have got used to it now though and I don’t think about it now. Justin’s like, ‘I’m sure a hug would be fine.’
What does Justin think of your green make-up?
I think he thinks I’m more on the ogre than the princess when I come home anyway! It really soaks into your skin and I always feel like now I have a green tinge. We use hot flannels to try and get it all off. I’ve got it down to a fine art now and it takes me about 15 minutes. I actually really like the fat suit though, is that wrong? It’s nice to let it all hang out at the end of the show!
Will you doing Shrek hamper plans for the Girls Aloud reunion?
Not at all. We are still looking to plan something for next year and I finish early next year so that’s fine.
Has Nadine been in touch and sent you a good luck message?
She is hopefully going to come and see it before the run is over in February. And Sarah too. Hopefully they will both come at some point. That’s the good thing about doing something for a while as they can all come and see you.
With the Girls Aloud reunion plans how far down the line are you?
I feel like I can’t give too much away but there will be something next year. It’s too early to give any proper information. It’s really exciting for us all to be getting back together.
Are you worried Steps have stolen some of your reunion thunder?!
Aaaaaw I’m really happy about Steps. I really like Steps back in the day and I’m glad they are doing well.
Were you upset about Westlife splitting?
I didn’t know they had split up! I do like Westlife but I didn’t actually think they would ever split up. It’s been so long I thought they’d always stay together and see what how they felt.
Have you definitely halted plans for recording any solo material?
It’s not like that. I just feel in this break I’ve been very free and I’ll be like ‘I’ll do this’ or ‘I’ll do that’ and I haven’t really planned anything. For me it’s strange to do that. I’m just going with my gut. I haven’t put a full stop to plans but we’ll see.
Are you watching the X Factor?
I haven’t really seen much of it. I saw the first few before I started but I haven’t seen it since starting here.
What do you think of Tulisa as an X Factor judge?
I think she is really good. I loved Tulisa anyway and I’ve met her a few times and she’s really funny. I think she is doing really well and I really like her in it.
You must be really pleased Sarah is sorting herself out in rehab. How is she?
She’s good. I’ve been in touch with her and she’s doing really, really well. We are all there for her.