Sunderland schoolgirl inspired by granddad lands West End role in Billy Elliot

Hollie Creighton with her dance awards
Hollie Creighton with her dance awards
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A Sunderland schoolgirl is jumping for joy after winning a role in one of the West End’s biggest shows.

Hollie Creighton, ten, from Barnes, this week made her debut in Billy Elliot after winning the role of Debbie.

Hollie Creighton making her West End debut

Hollie Creighton making her West End debut

The Grindon Hall Christian School pupil will spend the next six months living and working in London, sharing the role of dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson’s daughter with Beatrice Bartley, ten, from Durham, and current cast member Connie Fisher.

The show, based on the hit film, which was partly made in Easington Colliery, is now in its 11th year at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre.

Mum Muriel Creighton said: “Last year she got down to the final five, so she tried out again this year and we really couldn’t believe it when she got the role.

“We’re so proud of her. She’s already been getting some great feedback on her performance.”

Though this is Hollie’s biggest role to date, she’s no stranger to the stage.

She has previously appeared in Cinderella and Snow White at the Sunderland Empire after honing her dance skills at SK Dance and the Kathleen Burdon School of Ballet.

Two years ago, the Echo featured her story when she told how she began dancing 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.

Set in a North East mining town, against the background of the 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot 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 will perform alongside West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall who plays her mum, a role made famous by Julie Walters in the film.

Billy Elliot the Musical has now been seen by more than 10.5 million people worldwide and has played on five continents, racking up a host of awards.

In addition to the West End show, the first UK and Ireland tour of Billy Elliot the Musical will begin in February 2016 at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth.

The full tour dates have not yet been announced, but it’s hoped the show will come to the North East.