Life on the road is hectic for any pop star, but things are particularly crazed for Britney Spears just now. At the moment, the perky teen star is on her tour bus in Cleveland, trying to prepare for the night's performance while dealing with a string of short phone interviews. Things are such a jumble that, at one point, she interrupts herself in mid-answer to observe, "Ooo, we're moving!"
She giggles, then apologizes. "I'm sorry. I didn't know the bus was about to move."
Considering the kind of show Spears does, it's no wonder she feels frazzled. Like the videos for such hits as " . . . Baby One More Time" and "(You Drive Me) Crazy," her show is heavily choreographed, and that means the former Mousketeer is kept in constant motion, from first song to last.
That kind of exertion takes its toll. "We have to have a lot of energy," she says. "I have to be really rested."
Things are especially tough when Spears is working outside in extreme heat. "It kinda affects me sometimes," she says. "I'm just, like, I feel like I'm going to faint out there, and I'm, like, just, 'God, pleeease don't let me faint or anything.' I seriously picture my bodyguard picking me up off the stage.
"It's only been like that two or three times," she adds. "But when we do the outside shows -- like, we're doing an outside show today -- we usually have oxygen things in the back."
"To help us with our breathing," she explains, cheerily.
When Spears first started touring, she mainly opened for teen-idol acts like the Backstreet Boys and had a somewhat easier time of it. "I was on the stage for 30 minutes, and it was so simple," she says. "I would do, like, four songs, and that was it, and I would leave.
"Whereas now, it's like I have a whole show to do, and it's totally different.
"But it's so much fun, because you really get into it, and as you go along, the crowd gets more into it. And when you get finished, it's, like, so rewarding. . . . For some reason, you're just like: 'Oh, my God. I've done something good.' You know? That's really cool!"
Spears knows that all that work pays off with the fans, some of whom work as hard as she does, trying to copy the choreography. "Parents come up to me and they're like, 'My daughter, she stood in front of the mirror for two hours, trying to do your dances and copy them from the video,' " says Spears. "And I'm like: 'Oh, my goodness! That is so sweet.' It's really flattering."
Flattered though she may be by such imitation, Spears -- who has been criticized for having had breast-augmentation surgery -- is a bit uneasy about being labeled a role model. "Personally, I don't really like the term role model," she says. "Because I'm human, just like everybody else, and I make mistakes. I can [only] try and be a good person for me."
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Pier Six Concert Pavilion, Inner Harbor
Tickets: Sold out