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I've walked down this street before

Around 90 seconds into my chat with Sarah Thornton, I started getting a very strong sense of déja vu.

Around 90 seconds into my chat with Sarah Thornton, I started getting a very strong sense of déja vu.

The Gosforth-born actress was happily chatting about how excited she was to be coming back to the North-East to perform at the Sunderland Empire Theatre this week in 42nd Street ... and suddenly it clicked.

In March last year I travelled to Bradford to see Cameron Mackintosh's stunning production of My Fair Lady and happened to meet up with a Geordie cast member backstage, who just happened to be Sarah.

"Oh my god, I remember that," says Sarah as I tell her that she did indeed have the best hat in the famous racecourse scene, just as she had told me she would. "I loved doing that show, it was really fantastic."

My Fair Lady went down just lov-er-ly at the Empire last April, and now Sarah is set to return to the venue in the Olivier and Tony award-winning 42nd Street for a two-week stay from Tuesday.

"I hadn't seen the musical production but I absolutely loved the movie and I really wanted this show because it's all tap and that's one of my favourite pastimes," says the 23-year-old London Studio Dance Centre graduate who now bases herself in the capital.

"We used to do a lot of tap when I was at the Tyne Theatre Stage School," she adds fondly, doubtless remembering her performances in Cinderella, Aladdin and Dick Whittington at the (now) Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle.

And now she's putting it to professional use.

"The tap routines in the show are really fab. I only wish I could see them myself!" she laughs. "There are around 35 of us in the cast, including 21 of us in the ensemble. I play a small part called Phyllis Dale, and I'm really enjoying it. It's completely living up to what I thought it would be and being able to come home for a couple of weeks is such a great bonus too."

Not that her close family, who are still based in Gosforth, have been able wait mind you.

"My parents (Anne-Marie and Alan) have already been to see it twice," she laughs, "but it's good to be coming to a North-East venue because it means my extended family can get along to see it too."

In between My Fair Lady and 42nd Street, Sarah took to the boards in Harrogate for a pantomime stint in Sleeping Beauty.

"I played the principal male character. It was lots of fun, but I don't think I'm going to be able to do panto this year.

"I think I'd really like to try and get something in a West End show next. I'll probably start auditioning in July so who knows what will be next."

* 42nd Street plays the Sunderland Empire from Tuesday until May 26. For tickets, call 0870 602-1130 or visit www.livenation.co.uk/sunderland

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