Carley revels in life of West End star

Carley Stenson
Carley Stenson
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From the age of four Carley Stenson could not shut up. She would constantly bellow out tunes and perform in front of her family to get attention and even when her sister told her not to sing as she didn’t know the words, the West End star proved her wrong,

So she recorded herself singing along to hits from Dirty Dancing and her talent grew from there.

Born in Billinge, Carley moved to South Africa with her parents, Christine and Eric, and older sister Nicola for 18 months when she was four.

And it was there she began to show signs of being a star.

She said: “My parents moved to be with my aunty and uncle as they emigrated there.

“I had a relaxing time out there, and was always listening to music.

“I listened to a lot of Simon and Garfunkel, as they were my aunt’s favourite,

“My mum and dad were always singing and we used to sing along to cassettes in the car.

“My sister had a go at me for singing to Dirty Dancing songs because I didn’t know all the words, so when I was five I taped myself singing along to the tunes to prove I did know the words.”

The 30-year-old moved back to Billinge when she was six and joined Birchley St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.


Showing true potential, Carley enrolled at a variety of dance classes, including ballet, top and modern.

Carley said: “Before I could speak I was humming the Dallas theme tune. I grew up listening to Grace Kelly and The Chorus Line and I knew every single word. From the age of three I was using the rug in the lounge as a stage and so my mum took me to dance school.

“I think they got me out of the house because I was annoying everyone as I was a bit of a show off. I was going to dance classes three times a week and then I joined St Helens Pilkington Glass Amateur Dramatics and did plays like Oliver and Annie.”

At the age of 14, Carley joined Willpower and under Caroline Joynt, who was her agent, she auditioned for a variety of roles, including a Daz advert and a Steve Coogan film.

And when she turned 17, her big break came in the form of channel four soap Hollyoaks.

Carley said: “I auditioned for another character, Zara Morgan, but didn’t get it. But producers remembered me and told me to come back 
and Stephanie Dean was born.

“When Steph was first introduced, she was a bully and was very nasty. At the time I thought that the character would not last as no-one really liked her, and producers were great in allowing me to mould her. So I started making her more comedic and a bit daft and as a result, she had more longevity.

“I have so many happy memories there. I loved hanging with my second family on set and chatting with cast and crew whilst waiting for scenes,

“I loved taking part in the late night haunted special, as it was all about me.

“I enjoyed filming Steph’s husband Max’s death on his wedding day, which led to her being kidnapped by Niall. I got to spend two weeks in Wales, which was amazing.

“I also enjoyed filming comedy scenes with Bronagh Waugh, who played Cheryl Brady.”

After more than 10 years, Carley decided to leave the popular soap and after performing gigs around the country with girl group Diamond, tried her hand at West End musical theatre.

She landed her first role as understudy for Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, before bagging the lead role.


She then moved on to become Princess Fiona in Shrek: The Musical.

Speaking of her time in the West End, Carley said: “I had always wanted to do theatre growing up and I have always felt more comfortable on stage, compared to being on TV.

“I started as an understudy and at the time I thought I could get straight in there, but was glad to learn as the understudy,

“I was doing eight shows in six days a week.”