A young actress is to be a West End star after winning the lead role of the Mouse in the Christmas production of children’s classic, The Gruffalo.
Josie Cerise Towart, 25, whose stage name is Josie Cerise, opens on November 23 for Christmas at Shaftesbury Avenue’s famous Lyric Theatre in the show, which is becoming a West End classic after five consecutive years.
And next year, she will play the role on national tour, including a show at Salford Lowry in April. She has played the Mouse before in Edinburgh and Coventry for Tall Stories Productions who control all productions of the children’s favourite.
But the West End role is the crowning glory. Josie, who went to Bishop Rawstorne School and Runshaw College, said: “It’s a dream come true for me really.
“It’s one of the things I have always wanted to do.
“It’s such a fabulous opportunity. The Gruffalo is so big that they go all over the world with it.
“It’s even on in Sydney Opera House at the moment.
“But this is the big one. In Gruffalo terms, the Mouse has done good.
“It’s a high accolade because all the mice obviously are very good singers but if you’re in the West End, you need to be obviously of a very high standard of singing.
“So it’s a really nice compliment.”
Josie, from Eccleston, first won the part of the Mouse almost two years ago in her first ever London audition, for Tall Stories, who control Gruffalo productions.
When she starred in the show last Christmas, she almost got the chance at the London part then.
She said: “I was on standby to go into the West End because the Mouse playing it there wasn’t very well but it just never happened.
“I was so disappointed but the director said to me at the time, ‘You’ll get your chance in the West End, don’t you worry,’ and I thought she was just saying that.
“And then this year, they rang me up and said, We’d love you to do the big tour - and do the West End. It’s wonderful!”
Josie always loved the stage and her first role was in Bugsy Malone aged 11 at St Mary’s Primary.
She studied at local Emmerdale star Melanie Ash’s stage school before winning a first class honours in drama at Northumbria University along with the Joanna Harris Prize for Outstanding Achievement.
She starred as Red Riding Hood in a Northern stage production and then won the role of Pip in Bleak Expectations with the Nuffield Theatre Company Production.
This year, she toured with theatre company Sward, visiting villages in Lancashire and Cumbria with a performance in schools about the history of Hay Meadows.
A spokesman for Tall Stories Productions said: “She is a very talented girl and it’s lovely that she is getting some kudos.”
Her grandmother Nora Ward said: “We are very proud of her. I know she is my granddaughter but she deserves this success. She hasn’t let it go to her head at all.”