A new Cinders comes out of the shadows
THIS is the moment Holly Johnson realised she'd been chosen from 120 other girls as Cinderella for this year's Crucible pantomime.
"I said 'Are you joking?' – I was in a state of total shock," says Holly, who has still not quite come to terms with the fact that she's got the part.
Holly, aged 19, from Nether Edge, won the role in an X Factor-style competition at the Crucible.
"This is my big break," she says in a Sheffield coffee bar, her second interview of the day. She's already been recognised on the number 60 bus.
"I have been trying so hard to start off my career. You just need one thing for it to happen and it's this."
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It came just weeks after she won the Neurocare Are You A Star In Our Eyes competition as a very convincing look and soundalike Amy Winehouse, complete with tattoos.
"I still had one that wouldn't wash off when I did the audition for Cinderella," says Amy.
You could say she's been bitten by the showbiz bug ever since she was 18 months old. "We've got a video of me. I would dance and scream whenever they played the Neighbours theme tune."
Now she's playing opposite Neighbours' star Ryan Maloney. "I'll have to show him the video," she says.
It's not her first panto. She was part of the junior ensemble, with Constance Grant, for Babes in the Wood and Aladdin at the Lyceum when she was nine and 10.
"I always wanted to be one of the Big Girls. Now I'm a Big Girl I still feel about 10!" she admits.
For Holly, who has appeared with the Children's Theatre and Bratz Unlimited, the year could only have got better after February.
It was then that she had an operation to reconstitute a kidney and had to give up her studies in performing arts at Northumbria University in Newcastle.
The video of her Neurocare success had won her a place at the Institute of Contemporary Music in London but the fees were too high.
"But if I had taken the place I wouldn't have got Cinderella, would I?" she says, happy that things have worked out well.
Her dream is that Cinderella will lead to a career in music and the theatre but, sadly, it won't be as Holly Johnson.
Apart from it being the name of the lead singer of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, it's already been taken by a British actress.
"I'm taking my middle name, Victoria. My dad would kill me if I changed my surname," she laughs.
Dad is Kevan Johnson, a man who has had his fingers in so many musical and catering pies, from running the Limit to the Fulwood Inn and is now in charge of The Tube in Charter Square.
She's been working for him there but not for much longer. Rehearsals start on November 26.
Holly's already had her flu jab so she doesn't miss any of the 46 shows between opening night on December 13 and the last night, January 12.
Her success has led to quite a bit of excitement Chez Johnson. "My two little bothers, Matthew, 13, and Alex, 10, are beside themselves and my new little step-sister Lily keeps asking me if I can get Cinderella to meet her.
"I tell her I am Cinderella."
But Holly knows just how she feels.
"It's every little girl's dream to be Cinderella – and now I am."