NATALIE Casey has come a long way since starring as one of the original cast members in TV soap Hollyoaks. The actress went on to play Donna in the popular BBC cult sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and has treaded the boards in a variety of stage productions including playing Angela in Abigail's Party and appearing in Flint Street Nativity.
She's also enjoyed West End success as Paulette in Legally Blonde, Serena in Fame and played the lead role of Juliet in the musical The Wedding Singer.
The Northern performer is now getting her teeth into the show 9 to 5: The Musical which is winging its way to the West Country early next year.
It comes to the Princess Theatre, Torquay, from February 18 to 23.
9 to 5: The Musical is a comedy of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era.
The show, direct from Broadway, is based on the hit movie and features Dolly Parton's original hit title song along with her new Tony Award and Grammy-nominated score.
Natalie, who plays the character Judy Bernley, one of the leading ladies, is loving being involved in the vibrant show.
"It's an epic feminist tale, where the characters who feel disadvantaged get their own back," she said.
"What's great about this, is that it's rare that you have three, strong, female leads in a show. It's also very funny and heartfelt and Dolly Parton is involved, so overall, it's brilliant," she said.
Her character develops from a newly single, down-trodden lady to a strong independent woman.
"As her husband has left her, she has to go out for work for the first time and ends up in an office where she meets her new friends Violet and Doralee and they decide to overthrow their evil boss," said Natalie.
"It's a great way of expressing women feeling empowered."
She's looking forward to meeting Dolly, who is going to make a surprise appearance at some point during the tour to see how the show is being received.
"I do not want to know when she's in, that will be impossible though, as it will be obvious when she's around," said Natalie.
"I get terribly star struck when I meet people so I've made the producers say they'll stand by me when she comes in to see us, to stop me saying anything stupid and embarrassing myself. She's a true icon."
Dolly need not worry, as the musical is packing out houses wherever it plays.
"It's rare that you a show can achieve popularity across all walks of life," she said.
"It's aimed at everyone really, from fabulous homosexuals to women of a certain age and groups of young women who want to feel empowered.
"It's also interesting that we get a lot of couples who come along and usually the men are the first to stand up and sing along."
Natalie, who is based in London, is enjoying life on the road.
"I like being on tour, as going to each venue is like a little mini holiday, as your rock up each night and do a few hours of work, do a bit of singing and dancing and get to see so many places," she said.
"I think the key is, if you are on tour you have to find good digs as you have to make each place like home and hope the show is popular, as it's a little bit depressing if there are only a couple at the front and the venue is empty."
Having starred in some of the top musicals in the country, she enjoys the escapism.
"I think the good thing about doing a musical, is that it's a very happy time. You are forced to be happy for two and half hours of your life, no matter what's going on outside that building," she said.
"I'm just amazed I get jobs. I won't stop working until someone figures it and out and tells me I'm absolutely rubbish," she said in jest.
Since she was child, she knew her passion was to entertain.
"From an early age, my parents realised I wasn't going to be a marine biologist so they were good enough to let me do out of school activities and drama as that's what I wanted to do," said Natalie.
"I also come from a boisterous family and think I had to find my place by making people laugh, as that's what I do best.
"I don't think I'd be accepted anywhere else but on stage and in theatre land."