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Why Jenny enjoys a wicked role to kill for; Look! Chicago star tells Dawn Collinson about playing deadly.

Byline: Dawn Collinson

SHE might look innocent enough, but behind the perfect pout Jenny Ashton is a cold-blooded killer - every night and twice at weekends!

The actress from Aigburth is revelling in her latest stage role: as a sassy murderess in the hit musical Chicago.

Jenny plays Liz, one of the glamorous killers residing in Chicago's County Cook jail along with headline-grabbers Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly.

It is, laughs Jenny, an irresistibly wicked part to play in a fabulous production.

She says: "I first saw the original cast in the West End with Ute Lemper and Ruthie Henshall and just thought 'I've got to do that show'.

"Cats always used to be the ultimate musical for me, but once I saw Chicago that was it. That was the one I was desperate for and I still can't believe I'm in it, it's so brilliant."

Jenny is currently playing to sell-out audiences at the country's biggest theatres with the first touring production of the show.

It has already been a massive success in the West End and on Broadway, with Denise Van Outen and Claire Sweeney both winning ovations for their portrayals of sexy shooter Roxie.

For the past week, it has been wowing Liverpool Empire crowds and Jenny has had a rare opportunitye to come back home.

She first got the entertainment bug after leaving Notre Dame high school in Woolton.

She says: "By the time I got to 16 I realised I couldn't possibly do an office job, I'd have to go into showbiz.

"So I auditioned for Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre, got a place and went in thinking I was Margot Fonteyn - which I clearly wasn't!"

Jenny spent the next three years learning dance, singing and acting then set about following her dream of a stage career.

"But it was hard for the first few years because, not having trained in London, I didn't know any of the West End choreographers, " she says.

Pantos and summer seasons kept the bills paid, until she finally landed her first big show - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - in 1994.

"And it just snowballed from there, " says Jenny. "I did Oh What A Feeling with Sonia, then got a part in West Side Story."

Her stint in London's theatreland prompted her to buy a flat there, but once West Side Story ended she admits casting directors weren't queuing up.

"I was unemployed for about a year and a half which was horrendous and it did knock my confidence, " she says.

"But I was still determined."

That determination finally paid off when, from thousands of girls at the audition, Jenny landed the role of Liz.

Jenny is with this tour until August, but says she will sign up for a further year if it is extended.

It can be a gruelling show, she admits, but she tries to look after herself and eat healthily to stay fit.

"I'm 31 now so it does get harder. Your bones creak a bit more, " she jokes. "So when all the girls in their 20s are jumping around, I'm in a corner with my hot water bottles!"

Chicago is at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday, March 30.


SASSY: Jenny Ashton is wowing Empire audiences as glamorous killer Liz Picture: COLIN LANE
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2002
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