Emily’s dreams come true

A 10-year-old Jedburgh girl has landed a starring role in Edinburgh Festival Theatre’s musical, White Christmas.

Emily Balderston, a pupil at Parkside Primary School, has been cast to play the part of Susan Waverly, in rotation with two other Scottish schoolgirls during the show’s five-week run, until January 4.

The multi-million pound stage musical of Bing Crosby’s classic 1954 movie brims with Irving Berlin hits, such as Blue Skies, How Deep is the Ocean?, Happy Holidays, Sisters, and the famous title song, White Christmas.

In the plot, two buddies put on a show in a magical Vermont Inn, finding their perfect mates in the process.

Emily plays the part of Susan, the granddaughter of General Waverly, played by Graham Cole, a TV actor famous for playing PC Tony Stamp in ITV’s The Bill for 25 years.

“I feel very excited,” Emily told The Southern. “My friends are really excited. They’re coming to see me.”

The young singer will also have the chance to perform her own solo on stage.

“I’m not really nervous yet,” she said, “I know the song off by heart.”

After she learned she had won the part in October, Emily was taken to London and taught to sing the solo by the show’s director David Morgan.

The story started with her involvement in Creative Stage, a performing arts school based in the Borders, which teaches acting, singing and dancing. The arts school sent out an email from Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, inviting hopefuls to audition for the musical.

Telling us of her surprise, Emily said: “Two days after the audition, I was at school and Mum called to tell me. I didn’t know if Mum was telling the truth.”

Her Mum Claire, dad Robert, and 13-year-old brother Tom were also overjoyed at Emily’s success.

“Mum and Dad are really proud,” she told us. “Mum’s more excited than me.”

Her first appearance was the opening night last Friday (November 29), and she’s due to perform a dozen more times before White Christmas’s last performance in January.

The Festival Theatre describes Emily’s first big show as a “spectacular production featuring an all-star cast of over 30 and a dynamic 17-piece orchestra, tap dancing, laughter and one of of the greatest Christmas songs ever written.

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical was first staged in the UK in 2006 and since then has gone from strength to strength, breaking box office records, gaining accolades from critics and winning awards. It promises to be a ‘merry and bright’ theatrical experience for the whole family. This is a delightful musical that is as fresh and rare as newly-fallen snow.”

Joining the talented Jethart lass on stage are many celebrities from stage and screen, including Coronation Street’s Wendi Peters, and London’s Burning’s Steven Houghton, nominated for an Olivier award for his role in Spend, Spend, Spend.

And Emily’s special wish? Hoping all her White Christmas dreams come true.

“From the experience I’ve had, I want to be a singer,” she said.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas The Musical runs until January 4.

For more information and bookings, contact the box office on 0131 529 6000, or visit www.edtheatres.com