How a Sunderland dancer became a West End star at just 11 years old

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A Wearside starlet is wowing the West End in her 50th show in a hit musical.

Despite having never acted before when she won the role of Debbie in Billy Elliot, Hollie Creighton, 11, is winning rave review for her performance.

Hollie on stage in Billy Elliot

Hollie on stage in Billy Elliot

There are fan pages devoted to the Barnes youngster, and she’s been asked to stay on past her six month contract by producers.

This week the Grindon Hall School pupil will perform her 50th show at London’s Victoria Palace theatre and will stay in the cast until the musical finishes its 11-year run on April 9.

Hollie, who shares the role with two other young actresses, will be one of the last girls to play Debbie on the West End stage. But fans of the musical, based on the hit film which was partly filmed in Easington Colliery, needn’t worry. The show will be heading out on tour and will make its North East debut at Sunderland Empire in April.

Proud mum Muriel Creighton said: “It’s been such an amazing experience for her and she’s grown up so much since starting in the show.

“She lives in London for two weeks with the other cast members, then comes home for a week and goes to school.

“I miss her so much, but I try and get down to see the show as much as I can.

“The response she’s had is just fantastic, people have been posting comments saying she deserves a standing ovation.”

Hollie began dancing three years ago after the death of her grandfather Leslie Webster, 72, of Pennywell. She has gone on to compete in various dance festivals and championships with SK Dance after dancing helped her to cope with her grief.

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But has had to learn her acting skills on the job in the Billy Elliot musical.

Set in a North East mining town, against the background of the 1984/85 miners’ strike, the show tells the story of Billy’s journey from the boxing ring to a ballet class, where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his whole community and changes his life forever.

Hollie plays Debbie, the spirited daughter of dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, played in the film version by Julie Walters, who unlocks Billy’s passion for dance.

l To read a review of Hollie in Billy Elliot see next week’s WOW24/7.