Ali Bastian - Chicago, Wales Millennium Centre
Ali Bastian, star of Hollyoaks, The Bill and Strictly Come Dancing, heads to Wales this July to appear in Chicago. She speaks to Mark Rees ahead of the show.
"My dog comes on tour with me" says Ali Bastian, star of Hollyoaks, The Bill, and who is soon to be appearing onstage as Roxie Hart in Chicago at the Wales Millennium Centre. "Her name's Molly, and she's a cavapoo – a cross between a King Charles and a poodle. She's become the mascot of the tour, and everyone loves her!"
This won't be the first time that Ali has performed in Wales; she was here last year appearing in Agatha Christie's Verdict. "I loved it, it was one of the best weeks of the show," says Ali. "We all stayed together in this big house just outside the centre and I could pop in and go shopping when I wanted."
For many people, Ali will be synonymous with playing Becca Dean in Hollyoaks, the show that originally thrust her into the limelight, and led to her winning a British Soap Award in 2006. But luckily, Ali doesn't get too many people confusing her with Becca nowadays. "People only recognise me as Becca if I haven't got my make-up on – like if I run out of the house in my pyjamas quickly to get milk!" she laughs.
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Ali most recently appeared on our TV screens on Strictly Come Dancing, where she reached the semi-final in 2009. She says that she has the show to thank for reigniting her love of dancing, and for helping her land the role in Chicago. "I hadn't danced since school, and it was a baptism of fire, but it definitely kicked things off for me," she says. And the hard work paid off when she landed the leading role in her current hit musical. "It was a rigorous casting process, and it came out of the blue when I got it, I couldn't believe it. The script is so beautiful, and very precise, there's so much detail in it. But we can't go off piste at all; the whole thing is so slick and perfect."
Ali plays the part of Roxy, who was portrayed by Renée Zellweger in the critically acclaimed film adaption, for which our very own Catherine Zeta Jones won an Academy Award. "She's been played by a lot of great people," says Ali, "but for me it was all about making it my own. She's such a feisty character, there's loads to get your teeth into. It's the most amazing, non-stop show. I'm covered in goosebumps every night; you just get on the rollercoaster and do it again. It's lovely, and such a great laugh."
Chicago 9 - 14 July, Wales Millennium Centre