Taking first steps on stage – in All the Single Ladies

Men Behaving Badly star Leslie Ash takes her first steps on stage on her first national tour in 17 years in Abigail Burdess’ new three-hander, All the Single Ladies.

Leslie shares the stage with Brooke Kinsella and Tara Flynn in the show, which plays Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre on April 13 (01903 206206) – a piece exploring the love lives of three women in the festive glow of Christmas and New Year.

“Brooke plays a squaddie’s widow and Tara plays a woman that is seriously looking for Mr Right. I play a woman that has had seven husbands and doesn’t care what she says or what she thinks. It’s the first character part like that that I have played,” said Leslie.

“She’s someone that likes the passion at the beginning of a relationship and then gets bored. She moves on. She should have been in Hollywood! It’s written by Abigail, and my agent gave me the script. My agent looks after Abigail as well, I think, and the way it is written is so lovely. She has written these three parts and each character is really funny. It’s about three women on dating websites. All the women that come to see it and all the men will be able to relate to each character, I think. It’s quite amazing how such a young writer is so observant.”

For Leslie – so famously and so sadly in the news so much in recent years after a hospital-acquired infection threatened to leave her permanently unable to walk – the part is a huge step.

“The last time I was on stage was in the West End doing The Pyjama Game, so I am a bit wobbly. I have had a real time of it. But I have had a brilliant career and I have loved it. I have been in it since I was very young, and I feel stronger now than I have done for the last few years. What inspires me is that I can start to play character parts. A lot of the time you don’t have to move around a lot. I am walking with a stick and I probably always will.”

But the delight is simply to reconnect with the stage: “A lot of actors should do stage work. You work your way up through the theatre and then into whatever you can get, TV or whatever. But I am finding it fantastic to get back to where I started from, and it is nice not to have all the bells and whistles.

“It’s a good time for women who are over 50. They have got a lot more to say. People can really identify with the problems. I am going through it at the moment. When you have been known for glamorous parts and you can’t be seen without your make-up or your hair just so, it’s really nice now to play someone who is older…”