TREADING the boards is a precarious profession with long periods often spent out of work.
Nobody knows this better than Almondbury actress Joanna Christie.
Despite hitting the national headlines in 2007 when she starred in Equus alongside Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), she was on the verge of packing it all in.
But after deciding to go back to university, she has just landed the biggest role of her life. After auditioning hundreds of actresses in Los Angeles, Toronto and London, casting directors chose Joanna for the female lead role of Girl in the Broadway hit musical Once.
Ironically, the Broadway show was produced by Marsden-born John Tiffany. And this week, following rehearsals in London, she flies out to the Big Apple to take centre stage in the multi award-winning production.
Joanna, who will be 31 today, said: “This job is honestly a dream come true for me. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky.
“The part is a gift, the songs are beautiful and its such a life-affirming, wonderful story about life, love, and the joy of music. AND I get to perform it on Broadway!
“I’ve nearly given up acting twice now. About six years ago, just before I landed the role in Equus in the West End, and again just before getting this job, when I was literally about to apply to Cambridge for a Masters in Anthropology.”
Joanna was brought up in Dark Lane, Almondbury, and attended The Mount School, Edgerton, then Wakefield Girls High School, before getting a music scholarship to study piano, flute and singing at Oundle School in Northamptonshire. She moved to London to attend the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts drama school.
She attributes her success to her parents, Sue, well known in Huddersfield musical circles, and father Paul, who died last year.
Sue, who lives in Armitage Bridge, conducts the Millhouse Green Male Voice choir from Penistone and sings with The Mastersingers. Brother Luke also inherited musical genes. He is a drummer and singer/songwriter in London with the band Luke J Christie and The Held Breath.
Joanna said: “Acting is an extremely difficult and precarious profession; when it’s good its the best job in the world, but when it’s bad, its pretty soul-destroying.
“But every time I decide to go in a different direction I seem to be handed an amazing opportunity. It’s like the universe telling me that I am in the right profession and I need to just stick with it!
“The Broadway part is quite specific and demanding musically, so my childhood playing the piano was well spent. I owe all my success to my parents for giving me the opportunities to get to this point in my career and I would like to pay tribute to them.
“ I'm just so grateful to my mum for giving me the gift of music and to both her and my dad for always supporting and encouraging me.”
Once is a box office smash hit. It won 11 Tony awards last year and is directed and choreographed by Huddersfield duo John Tiffany and Steven Hoggett.