Billinge lad's big stage break

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A Billinge actor is set to tread the boards in an award-winning London musical.

Chris Barton, 22, a former auditionee for BBC talent contest Any Dream Will Do, has landed a role in the hit musical Spring Awakening.

The West End play, playing at The Novello Theatre, explores teenage sexual awakening, at a time of religious and parental repression.

Chris has a 'swing' role, which means he has to know the five major roles, and takes over when they are on holiday or ill.

He is also an assistant dance captain, taking responsibility for the dancers and their moves.

He said: "It's an absolute dream come true to be in the West End. It's all I have ever wanted to do since I was a little boy.

"It's something really special to me. I auditioned 10 months ago, so when I found out I got it, I was over the moon.

"Swing means I learn everyone's parts and when someone is ill, I take their place. I absolutely love it.

"It's more interesting to do swing, you are doing different parts, rather than the same thing over again.

"The audience is sitting on stage and we pretend to be audience members. Then we stand up and join in, singing, which surprises the audience."

Since his appearance on Any Dream Will Do, Chris, who trained at The Hammond School, in Chester, and the Liverpool Theatre School, has been on the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat tour and has also been in the Our Benny production at the Liverpool Empire Theatre.

His parents, Jane, 49, and Pemberton dentist Phil, 52, were delighted Chris has achieved so much since his appearance on the TV show.

Jane said: "When he did Any Dream Will Do, that gave him a real opening to progress and do what he's always wanted to do, which is musical theatre. He was absolutely elated to get the part."

Phil, 52, added: "Spring Awakening is quite a cult show. He has made a big breakthrough."

Spring Awakening is on at The Novello Theare, in London, now. For tickets all the Box Office on 0844 482 5171.