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Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Van Outen lights up Chicago
Denise Van Outen:
Denise Van Outen: All smiles after a successful start
Former Big Breakfast presenter Denise Van Outen has made a strong West End debut, after joining the cast of raunchy hit musical Chicago.

Van Outen's Tuesday night preview performance as the predatory Roxie Hart won the approval of her first night crowd.

The audience cheered enthusiastically as Van Outen, 26, appeared on stage and after the show their reaction was still positive.

It was Denise Van Outen 's Big Night - and she knocked 'em dead

Tony Purnell, The Mirror
In her role as Roxie - who winds up in jail after shooting her lover - Van Outen acts, sings, dances and performs a number of agile moves.

Van Outen is being given a few days to find her feet in the role before the official first night - expected next week - when the theatre critics will give their reaction.

For now, only a couple of newspaper journalists have passed comment on Van Outen's fledging performance. And again, their reaction has been warm.

The Daily Telegraph said respectfully: "Denise Van Outen made a successful debut playing femme fatale Roxie."

A scene from the musical Chicago
Chicago demands acting, singing and dancing skills
But Tony Purnell of The Mirror did not hold back on his praise.

"It was Denise Van Outen 's Big Night - and she knocked 'em dead.

"The lads may have only been here for the leer but the broad from the Big Breakfast breezed into the Windy City like a veteran and danced up a storm."

Emma Porter, who was in the audience at London's Adelphi Theatre, was impressed by Van Outen's debut.

'A bit timid'

"She has a really good voice which surprised me, although it could have done with a bit more oomph. But on the whole she was really good."

Lindsay Uhrich from California - but based in London - said: "I thought she did good.

"I saw Chicago in New York and I thought the girl who played the same part as Denise did it a little better, she just seems a bit timid.

"But I think she will be really good when she's done it a couple more times."

Van Outen has been booked for Chicago for 16 weeks, after a 10-year absence from stage work.

Hit musical

She became a UK household name for her stint at the Big Breakfast, along with co-host Johnny Vaughan.

Chicago has been a big London hit since it opened in 1997.

Other well-known stars to appear have included French singer Sasha Distel and British entertainer Les Dennis.

Van Outen is joined by another Chicago newcomer James Gaddas, who most recently appeared in Yasmina Reza's hit play Art, also in London's West End.

See also:

03 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Van Outen's career goes down the Tube
12 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Breakfast over for Denise and Johnny
28 Mar 01 | Arts
George Segal joins Art
04 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Van Outen's Breakfast return
19 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Jay Kay: 'I will marry Denise'
08 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Pace goes to Chicago
10 May 00 | Entertainment
Chicago comeback for Dennis
26 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Duffy finds feet in Art
04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Street and Spandau stars joins Art
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