Lawless takes on Chicago

20:22, Nov 01 2013

Lucy Lawless is used to playing powerful women but the scariest thing about her new production of Chicago is going back to the theatre in her home town.

"But I like nothing better than scaring myself," the former Xena: Warrior Princess star said.

Lawless plays Velma, the established star threatened by the newcomer Roxie - played by Shortland Street's Amanda Billing.

The inevitable "younger, prettier, hotter" was not so serious a threat, though.

"Youth and exuberance is no match for experience and stealth," Lawless said.

The version at Auckland's Q Theatre is often described as "gritty" and "raw" - quite different to conventional American renditions and definitely a far-cry from the film.

Getting her hands dirty is something Lawless knows something about from her participation in activism with Greenpeace.

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In February, Lawless illegally boarded an oil drill-ship in the Tarankai in an effort to stop Shell drilling for oil in the Arctic.

She was sentenced to 120 hours community work and ordered to pay $651.44 to Port Taranaki.

"I didn't want to be an activist... I'd love to be a rich little actress who thought about lipstick all the time but the world doesn't really need another one of those. I don't want to say to my grandchildren that I sat by and painted my nails while corporations took over the world."

Billing, too, is relishing the chance to get a bit dirty.

As sexy Roxie - wearing a corset and not much more - she has been able to break away from her neurotic, driven, character on Shortland Street, Sarah Potts.

"I get to swear, I get to wear fake tattoos. Sarah Potts is quite mumsy. I'm playing someone who's Hell on Wheels and that's really fun."

Chicago runs from Saturday November 2 to Sunday December 15 at Auckland's Q Theatre

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