ON STAGE: Theatre talk with Billy Elliiot star Anna-Jane Casey

Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot's journey takes him out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.

You know the story, you've watched the film.  But you will be doing yourself a massive disservice if you miss the production currently dancing its way through a three week stay at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Anna-Jane Casey is fabulous as dance tutor Mrs Wilkinson.  She boasts a terrifically plump CV, bristling with brilliance on the stage, and the screen.

She went On Stage with Total MK...

Tell us about your first memory of the theatre
Seeing Swan Lake at the Palace Theatre Manchester, aged 9 and wishing I was on there! The next year I got a part in the tour of ANNIE and was up there for 8 weeks!

And the moment when you realised the theatre was your calling
During rehearsals for ANNIE and having such a fab time, I knew I didn’t want to do anything else.

Any dreadful calamities, or funny happenings on stage that you would care to share with us?
Lots! I’ve choked on a fly during a solo, slipped over on my bottom more times than I care to remember and pooped in my CATS costume onstage (had to wash my own costume that day!)

Which stage actor, living or dead, would you most like to meet, and what question would you ask them?
Elaine Stritch and ask was she really that cantankerous or was it all for show?

Do you have any superstitions, or pre-performance routines?
Brush your teeth so you don’t offend anyone if you’ve eaten garlic

The best piece of advice given to you when you started in the business
Turn up on time, work hard and don’t be a pain!

What do you think has been your steepest learning curve?
Realising that there will ALWAYS be someone younger/better looking/thinner/more appropriate for the job so just be the best you can be and don’t fret

How do you fill your spare time while on tour?
I’m a marathon runner but a mum too, so I run and catch up on books or films I never get to see when I’m with my girls

Nerves or excitement? Which takes over just before the curtain rises?
Depends on the show and of course who’s watching – it’s more nerve-wracking when your Mum is in!

How can the future of theatre be safeguarded? What would you do to entice new blood to audiences?
Make the tickets cheaper! And let every school kid take a trip to the theatre 5 times a year (so not just the occasional pantomime) and it should be free for the school.

Now tell us about the three favourite roles your have played so far, and what makes them special.

1 Anita in West Side Story – I met my fabulous husband on it
2 Charity in Sweet Charity – at my favourite theatre – Sheffield Crucible
3 Violet Butterfield in Flowers for Mrs Harris – playing a 50yr old char woman was a brilliant and a very different role for me

Finally, for those yet to get a ticket for Billy Elliot, sell the show.
I really believe this is the best, commercial British Musical ever staged.

The children are remarkable, it’s gritty and real and gives a phenomenal history lesson as well as making you weep tears of joy and sadness.


To book your seat for the production - which continues at Milton Kwynes Museum until June 17 - click www.atgtickets.com/miltonjeynes