It is hard to imagine that someone who has conquered the world’s pop charts, TV and cinema screens would find appearing on stage at provincial theatres in any way intimidating.
But three-time Grammy-nominated and double Brit award winner Natalie Imbruglia admitted turning her focus to the stage was scary.
Natalie is appearing in the nationwide Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s Things We Do For Love, which started touring in Bath in April and reaches Bromley’s Churchill Theatre on Monday (June 9).
The London-based Aussie star, 39, said: “I’m loving it. I was terrified at the beginning but now I’ve got into the groove it is just so brilliant.
“What I love about the theatre is you can hone a character. You get the chance to do it again and again and again and try new things. I’m at that point now where I’m brave enough to be trying things on the fly. It’s exciting and it’s fun.”
Despite already being a household name for her acting - first on Neighbours and later in films such as the Rowan Atkinson’s spy spoof Johnny English - Natalie took herself to LA to further study her craft.
The decision to transfer to theatre wasn’t a conscious one, she said, but one she felt ready for.
She said: “It was an audition that came up. I liked the script, I liked the character and that always guides my decisions more than the medium, really.”
She added: “I had actually been doing scenes from plays in front of an audience in class I thought I could imagine I could do this now.”
The audition itself was done over Skype.
Natalie said: “It was bizarre, modern. I felt very modern. It seems to be the way forward now.”
As many of us who have tried video calls over the internet have found, it doesn’t always go smoothly. And it was no different for Natalie.
She said: “The first time we did it, I was recording at my end and I was just a square in the corner so I had to do it again.
“They were like ‘we can’t really see you’. There was a bit of a hiccup on that front.
“I’m not very savvy. I have an IT guy who’s very savvy.”
Having won the part, the show is now garnering rave reviews. At a matinee performance in Manchester, the playwright and a famous friend of Natalie’s popped by to see her.
She said: “That was so exciting. Talk about an amazing matinee.
“I had my friend Kylie Minogue come and Sir Alan Ayckbourn come in the same matinee.
“I actually was really nervous. I fluffed a bit of a line on that day because I was so nervous.”
Sir Alan loved the show and so did Natalie’s fellow Aussie soap hero-turned-pop princess.
Natalie said: “She was like ‘you nailed it’.
“I think, from one performer to another, she knows how scary it is trying something new like that.
“She is really supportive. I’m her friend but I’m also a huge fan of her work and it means a lot that she liked it and she came to see it.”
Kylie Minogue stopped for a photo with Natalie and her co-star Simon Gregor (Picture: Instagram/ Natalie_Imbruglia)
While Natalie has enjoyed the change of pace touring in a play compared to gigging with music – she gets to unpack her suitcase and escape the hotels – she is looking forward to heading back south for the Bromley shows.
She said: “I’m excited about Bromley. I get to stay at home for that week and commute.
“My parents are in town so they are going to come to Bromley. It is going to be a very special week for me, so I’m very excited.
“Lots of my friends are going to be coming. I have to find somewhere in Bromley to take my folks, something fun to do with them.”
While she is committed to the play for a while yet, Natalie has other plans on the horizon including charity work in Ethopia, writing new music and releasing an already-recorded album of covers next year.
She said: “I love everything I do. I like to flit around and do lots of things and keep it varied creatively, which I feel very blessed to have been able to do.
“I am missing performing and singing, though. It will be nice to get back to do that.”
Things We Do For Love is at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley, from Monday (June 9) until Saturday (June 14). Tickets from £10. Go to atgtickets.com/Bromley or call 0844 8717620.