FOR drama school graduate Emily Reaney it was the best of Christmas presents when she landed a part in the Lyceum panto which has brought her back to her home city.
The 20-year-old from Millhouses is one of the six young professionals who make up the ensemble of villagers in Cinderella starring Sue Devaney, Jonathan Ansell and Ben Faulks.
“Last year I was in panto in Catford which was good because I live in South London but this is a much more professional production and it’s pretty demanding, although it’s also been good fun,” she says, “It’s like a different show each night.” With the adlibbing of funny man Damian Williams anything can happen, but Buttons couldn’t be blamed for an unexpected incident which brought the house down the other night as Williams and co were dumped on the floor when a bench collapsed just as Emily was about to make her entrance disguised as a ghost. “That’s usually the best part of the show for me, that made it even better,” she laughs.
Emily began dancing at the age of seven at the Constance Grant Dance Centre. “There was a group of us who became very close and our friendship grew and we spurred each other on,” she recalls. “We were one of the last groups of girls taught by Miss Judith and she gave us a lot of opportunity when we were there. We appeared at Her Majesty’s Theatre and in cabaret at the Abbeydale Picturehouse.
Like so many Sheffield youngsters she first took to the stage in the Constance Grant showcase at the City Hall, though this year she was in the audience watching her mum in the adult tap class.
Mother Louise is a state registered podiatrist and dad Paul is a quantity surveyor and builder and she has a younger brother, James, who is doing his A Levels at Silverdale.
Emily went to Abbeydale Grange and performed with Bratz Unlimited in High School Musical at the Crucible during the Sheffield Children’s Festival. “That’s what introduced me to singing,” she says.
At 17 she got a scholarship to Millennium Performing Arts at Woolwich. “It came out of the blue and at first I was very homesick in London but within a year or so I was settled. It’s the best thing I ever did because it’s given me a grounding in musical theatre and I living in London gives you a lot of contacts.”
She insists on mentioning the Sheffield charities that supported her as a student - the Sheffield Bluecoat and Mount Pleasant Educational Foundation, the Church Burgesses Educational Foundation and the Sheffield Grammar School Exhibition Foundation.
These days she supports herself working in a pub as she goes for auditions. “It’s tough trying to build up your CV and being here in Cinderella will help that.”