Following Julie Walters’ footsteps is a dream come true for Amy

Amy Rhiannon-Worthsteps intothe Julie Walters role in Billy Elliott in Manchester
Amy Rhiannon-Worthsteps intothe Julie Walters role in Billy Elliott in Manchester

Perfecting her craft on the intimate stages of her hometown theatre in Lancaster, Amy Rhiannon-Worth dreamed of a role treading the boards with a West End production.

Timed to perfection, her hard work paid off and Amy is now travelling the country on the first UK tour of Billy Elliott’, currently showing at Manchester Palace Theatre.

On December 26 and January 9, she will be stepping into the lead role of Mrs Wilkinson, made famous by Julie Walters in the film version, as she has done once a month, since the show first opened in February.

“It is such an amazing experience and I’m so proud to be a part of it. And Mrs Wilkinson is the dream part. It is such a successful show it has been going for 10 years and this is the first time they are doing an inaugural tour.

“I have always wanted to do one of the big musicals, especially this one, it really is a dream come true.”

It was an intense process leading to that call from her agent to tell her she had made the cast and that she would be understudy for the Mrs Wilkinson role, with regular performances. There were eight rounds of auditions leading to the final call in front of a 14 person panel, which Amy described as tough.’ But it was an investment worth holding out for and she recalls the moment she finally learned she had the part.

“I was in an airport in Quebec at the time - my agent’s number came up and I knew I had to take the call, even though it was going to be expensive to receive! I had that little celebratory moment in the airport.”

That was just over a year ago and after an intensive two-month rehearsal period, curtains went up on the production in Plymouth in February.

Since then the cast have been performing eight times a week and will continue their run until July 2017.

“We’re a real team - there is so much more to Billy Elliot than just singing and dancing, it’s a real political play, full of meaning, representing the North.”

Amy, 40, who has been performing as an actor and singer for more than 20 years, says she finally braved a move to London two years ago but she grew up in Burton-in-Kendal.

She discovered her love for musical theatre around the age of 14, whilst at Morecambe High School.

Hailing from a family of teachers she opted for university rather than a move to drama school gaining a degree in Drama at Aberystwyth University.

It was a brush with fame, aged 10, when she knew she had caught the performing bug when her primary school class entered into the 1986 BBC Songs for Christmas competition.

“That year a young Gary Barlow also entered. We were invited to perform in the final and I was singing the lead part - our song was called Maybe Jesus’ It was an incredible experience - I just remember it being the first time I cried with happiness.”

Her professional career began on home turf at the Lancaster Dukes Theatre when she starred in Beauty and the Beast in 1998. The actress has also been involved in five Williamson Park open air productions with The Dukes and another notable performance was her lead part in Accrington Pals, a role she took just three days before the show opened when actress Jessica Lloyd was taken ill. She laughs: “I like a challenge. It was every exciting but at the time I did think what have I let myself in for?’ Playing Mrs Wilkinson has been another challenge, although whilst I’m stepping in and out of the part. And the feedback has just been lovely.”

As well as theatre Amy also has TV credits to her name, including Emmerdale and films Dementamania and The Encoder.

“I absolutely love working in the theatre but enjoy TV work, too - it is such a different skill set, I’d love to do more musical theatre, something similar but after this production it will be hard to match!”

Billy Elliot, Palace Theatre Manchester, until January 28