Emma’s on Easy Street

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“IT’S amazing,” gushes actress Emma Barton – one of the stars of Nikolai Foster’s Annie which comes to West Yorkshire Playhouse later this month.

“It’s such a stunning performance already,” she insists, “and we haven’t even got into the theatre yet.”

Emma – who made a name for herself as EastEnders’ much-loved Honey Mitchell – enthuses about her role as Lily in the well-known musical which tracks the fortunes of a flame-haired orphan.

Excitedly, she goes on to say how much fun it is playing a baddie for a change: “Lily is not very nice, she’s a bit of a lost soul really and she and her boyfriend Rooster are really quite dark,” she said.

“She’s very funny because she’s a bit stupid. Plus I’ve never really played a villain before so it’s lovely to get such a different role.” She pauses for a moment and laughs: “I hope we don’t get booed too much.”

The scheming character – along with ruthless Rooster – try to dupe little Annie into thinking Lily’s the mother she’s never known.

The dastardly couple are well known for boasting about their plan in the musical number, Easy Street, just one of the many songs the play is famous for.

“It’s a fantastic number,” said Emma, “I’ve done a lot of dancing, I’ve found muscles I didn’t realise I even had. You just don’t stop, it’s a great work out,” she joked.

Foster’s production features all the classic songs such as Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow.

Performing in Annie – which kicks off on November 21 – is the first of many experiences for the former TV star.

She said: “There’s two reasons I auditioned. One was Nikolai, I’d seen a number of his shows before and heard so much about him.

“He inspires you, his ideas make you go away on a high. Working with him makes you want to bring more to the stage.

“The second is that Annie is a film that got me excited about musical theatre when I was a child, and Lily in particular I really loved.

“Also I’ve never worked at West Yorkshire Playhouse and as an actor you have a check list of people you want to work with, and places you want to perform and shows you want to do.

“So I got three ticks with this one.”

With tickets selling faster than the latest iPhone, it seems Annie – and Emma – are set to light up the stage with festive cheer.

“It’s a really lovely time of year with the show being Christmassy,” said the actress. “It’s going to be very warming.

“We’ve got such an amazing company and it’s like a family away from home. Plus I’m absolutely loving Leeds, everyone’s so friendly.

“It’s so refreshing – I might stay!”

For tickets visit the West Yorkshire Playhouse website at www.wyp.org.uk or call box office on 0113 213 7700.