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.
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