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Denise Van Outen’s Some Girl I Used to Know

Some Girl I Used to Know which first debuted to sold-out audiences on the West End at the Arts Theatre in 2014, will transport theatre-goers and fans alike to a time when hopes were high and love was intoxicating – and Covid wasn’t even conceived.

Denise Van Outen's in Some Girl I Used to Know - Photo credit Robin Kennedy
Denise Van Outen’s in Some Girl I Used to Know – Photo credit Robin Kennedy

Both hilarious and touching, this one-woman monologue features a mixtape of songs from the 80s and 90s, including Soft Cell and Culture Club performed as live by Denise Van Outen. With music supplied by globally renowned producer Steve Anderson – famed for his work with Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears and Steps – the play provides an intimate journey through the inner thoughts of a woman – apt for 2021.

Stephanie (Denise Van Outen) is a successful, rich and beautiful lingerie designer who has it all – a true Essex girl made good. But having it all isn’t always enough.

Set in her luxurious hotel room with nothing but her phone, laptop, and a fully stocked minibar to keep her company she received an out-of-the-blue message from an old flame, Sean.

Her mind wrestles between the reality of her steady stay-at-home husband Paul… to the excitement of her ‘shaggable’ childhood sweetheart and first love Sean. But which direction will she choose?

The project was filmed in a luxurious suite at London’s Home House Club and Hotel and will give viewers pure escapism from start to finish. A percentage of profits from the live stream – that will run across four nights over Easter weekend – will be donated to the Make a Difference Trust which has been raising funds for theatre professionals forced out of work by the pandemic.

Read our Q&A with Denise Van Outen
Q: How have you managed to stay sane and healthy during the lockdowns?
Denise: I have had to think outside of the box as most performers have had to. I had a lot lined up for 2020 – the play that I am now about to stream was going to be put back on stage. Obviously, we went into lockdown and staging the play wasn’t possible. So I sat there thinking – I have this play that I had written in 2013 and I really want to bring it back.

I then decided to turn it into a 4-part podcast and it worked really well. I thought that theatre wouldn’t be coming back any time soon and with this show being Covid-safe, with only me in it, I could make it happen, and I know that streaming has been quite popular, so I thought why not just stream it.

We were going to rent a theatre but looking at the costs to recreate the set of a hotel room, I thought, well the hotels are empty maybe I should try and record it in an actual hotel room that has all of the props already there.

We managed to get Home House in London which is amazing and filmed everything in a suite. It will be streamed over the Easter weekend.

Q: You co-wrote the play with Terry Ronald – how relevant is it in 2021?
Denise: Even more so. Because the journey that the character goes on – with reflection, self-discovery, life-changing decisions, everything that people are going through right now. Which is why I thought the timing was perfect.

The character is sitting in a hotel room on her own – feeling slightly trapped in her environment, she is married to a husband and is not sure she wants to continue in that relationship, which is a question that I think a lot of people have been faced with, having been in lockdown. Partly through being at a crossroads in her life, she is then also back in touch through social media with an ex-boyfriend.

I think it is so relevant to people right now, with relationships that are failing due to lockdown and being in isolation. There are also a lot of people reconnecting, with friends or partners from the past.

When you are left with your own thoughts in a room, you reflect on your behaviour, how situations have ended and you try to put things right. And that is exactly what this is about.

Q: Tamzin Outhwaite is the director… how has it been working together?

Some Girl I Used to Know - Tamzin Outhwaite and Denise Van Outen - Photo credit Robin Kennedy
Some Girl I Used to Know – Tamzin Outhwaite and Denise Van Outen – Photo credit Robin Kennedy

Denise: I spoke with Tamzin about it, and her first question was ‘Great, but why me?’
I have always thought that Tamsin is a very talented actress. I know how demanding soap operas can be, and I have seen how good she is in that. I have seen her in dramas and on stage in Sweet Charity. As a fellow actress, I have a lot of respect for her as a performer. Because it is a one-woman show I needed it to be someone I could be comfortable with on-set. Tamsin has such a fun personality, so I knew she would make it fun for me, but equally would care enough about the piece.

I have never had a female director before and she brought something different out of my performance that wasn’t there before when I performed it on stage.

Doing the performance with a camera in your face is very intimate and she changed the whole dynamic of the play. For me, she brought so much to it. And I am thrilled that she worked with me on it.

Like myself, Tamsin is also a massive supporter of the arts and has the same frustration that we are not able to do what we want to do and it really was brilliant working with her. We had lots of laughs and it was great to create something during lockdown.

Q: How difficult has it been re-creating a stage production onto film?
Denise: It has had its own challenges. For example, you don’t have the luxury of lighting changes. You can create a very dramatic scene on a stage which is a bit more difficult when you are in a real hotel room with limited lighting. We kept our crew very small for Covid reasons. In some ways, it meant I had to draw more out of the performance. The story itself is in parts quite fun – we had to re-shoot some scenes as the crew were laughing.

Q: Why should everyone buy a ticket for Some Girl I Used to Know?
Denise: People have probably exhausted every box set and we should be supporting the arts. Tamsin and I came up with the idea that if we were going to stream this we would want some of the profits, once we have paid all of our crew, to go to the Make a Difference Trust which is supporting people within theatre and the arts who haven’t had any government funding throughout the pandemic. People who have struggled to pay their bills, rent or mortgage. These are the people that you don’t always see in theatres, such as stagehands, people that work in the box offices, stage door teams, the lighting, rigs, costume departments. There are a lot of people that haven’t had any support from the government and we want to help them because we love theatre.

We also wanted to make it affordable for people – some people can’t afford a West End ticket, more so now than ever. It will be tough for people. This is £10, so if you are isolated by yourself, with family or friends you can watch it together. It’s a cheap night in with a West End quality production.

Q: What plans do you have for the rest of 2021?
Denise: It would be lovely to get this on stage in front of a live audience again. I would love to be performing it and having that immediate feedback and laughter. It would be lovely to have that.

And fingers crossed that we can light up all of the theatres and concert halls again around the country.

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Twitter: @vanouten_denise @mouthwaite @terryronald
Instagram @glamzin @somegirliused2know

Tickets for the stream – that runs from April 2nd to 5th 2021 and will cost £10
available via www.somegirl.co.uk

Author

  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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1 thought on “Denise Van Outen’s Some Girl I Used to Know”

  1. Excellent in every way. A quality production. I especially liked the songs at the end. I have never really listened to the first songs words before but this version blew me away. The arrangement and the execution of it was beautiful. Denise and Tamzin are very talented and I’m so pleased that by chance I saw the interview on tv and decided to watch this. I just wish I could keep the whole production it was so good. Thank you so much to all involved.

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