WEST End star Alicia Peacock has a good deal to thank comedian-turned impresario Ben Elton.
While still halfway through a three-year dance course, she auditioned for a role in his Queen-inspired musical We Will Rock You.
Amazing for such a relatively inexperienced performer, Alicia won the part and hasn’t looked back since ... particularly after she met her future husband among the cast!
“It was only the second professional audition I’d ever done,” explains Alicia, who grew up in Eccleston but now lives in Hertfordshire.
“At the same time I was offered a part in Saturday Night Fever, which would have meant going abroad. I decided to accept the offer from We Will Rock You because I wanted to work in the West End. I am so glad that I did because being in that show has changed my life.”
Alicia, 25, has come a long way from her early days as a talented youngster at the Elizabeth Hill Dance School in St Helens.
But while funnyman Ben Elton’s show provided her with her first break, it is Elizabeth Hill who Alicia credits with having the greatest impact on her career.
“From the age of seven, I trained there every single day and I owe Elizabeth so much,” said the former Rainford High pupil. “She was the one who put me in for competitions, who gave me so much advice and helped me get where I am today.
“I started there when I was three at the ballet classes and carried on until I was 18. My cousin was already there and she went on to go to the Royal Ballet, so I suppose you could say it runs in the family but I just always knew that this was what I wanted to do.”
Alicia’s name sits proudly among a long list of famous Elizabeth Hill Dance School alumni, including ex-Brookside star Jennifer Ellison, Hollyoaks’ Emma Rigby and Keely and Kady Jo-Jackson, sisters who have won a starring role in the musical Wicked.
She cites her training at the dance school for giving her the confidence and skills to begin auditioning for roles so early.
“I started auditioning for roles in my second year of college in 2005 and got offered a role in We Will Rock You very early,” said Alicia.
“In this type of work you are typically only offering 12-month contract and then you either renew the contract or move on to something different.
“I’ve been very lucky because I’ve been back three times and obviously because in 2006 I met my husband there.
“He was, and still is, starring in the show as Gallelio, so the show means so much to us both.”
After her first stint in We Will Rock You, which is now the longest-running musical ever at London’s Dominion Theatre, she won a role as one of the Merry Murderess’ in Chicago as the hit show went on a marathon 13-month tour.
But it is to We Will Rock You that Alicia keeps returning.
She’s currently starring again in the dance ensemble, churning out eight performances a week, six days a week.
“It is physically exhausting work because you’re either on the stage all the time, changing costumes or singing,” admits Alicia. “Sometimes you don’t get back home until after midnight and then, because you’re still pumped up from the show, you don’t go to sleep until two in the morning. So doing the show can be pretty time-consuming.”
Ever the realist, Alicia believes she has around 10 more years left dancing in the high-octane world of West End musicials.
“I’ve probably got about 10 more years at most,” she said. “It very hard work but I could move on to more of the acting and singing side, that very much what I see myself doing.
“I’ve also got a physiotherapy business which I do part-time. It’s hard to find work in the acting profession - most people are only employed for around five per cent of the year - so I’m aware that I have been very, very lucky.”
* Alicia is in We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre in London now.