Burnley actress Helen Ternent stars in West End production of Jersey Boys

JERSEY BOYS The Musical London photo Brinkhoff & M Genburg

JERSEY BOYS The Musical London photo Brinkhoff & M Genburg - Credit: Archant

From Burnley to the Big Smoke, Helen Ternent is making it on stage in the West End

Lancashire actress LAN Sep15 Helen Ternent

Lancashire actress LAN Sep15 Helen Ternent - Credit: Archant

BURNLEY’S Helen Ternent can’t quite believe her luck. ‘It’s something that I watched years ago and I had a feeling I want to be in it.’ The 28-year-old actress is talking about landing a part in the West End production of Jersey Boys at the Picadilly Theatre, London. ‘With only a few female characters it’s such a privilege to be in it. I am massively pleased.’

Jersey Boys tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks. Playing the role of Francine, Frankie Valli’s daughter, is a far cry from where Helen started off on a small stage in Burnley. ‘When I was younger I went to classes at Sanderson Dance School, which is still going strong,’ said Helen, who’s father Raymond used to play for Burnley Football Club in the 1960s. ‘At the age of 11 I then started at the amateur dramatics group, Basics Junior Theatre, which I absolutely loved and got stuck into. It was there I got a real feel for musical theatre’

However for Helen, her love of acting was merely a hobby until her dance teacher approached her parents Veronica and Ray with the serious proposition that Helen could make it in the acting world. ‘She showed my parents a prospectus for Phil Winston’s Theatreworks in Blackpool.’

The former pupil of Higham Primary and Mansfield High School hadn’t realised that acting was something you could make a career out of and, with Blackpool being closer to home than London, she decided to give it a go. The budding actress then spent the next three years training at stage school, before graduating, gaining an agent and landing her big break in a performance in Germany.

‘My first job was the Three Musketeers in Berlin. I was in pantomime season, had an audition on the Monday and the following week suddenly was plucked out of nowhere and flown to Germany!’

Suddenly being in a cold, foreign country alone and having to perform in German each day to a packed audience, the experience for 19-year-old Helen was a real learning curve. ‘I was fresh out of it. Looking back now I was just a kid but you have to prove yourself. I am proud of what I achieved, back then and now. A good artist is always learning.’

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Helen, who now lives in London, has since had a successful theatre career starring in performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre and Aldwych theatres, as well as the Hairspray UK tour and even performing in Viva Forever! at Piccadilly Theatre.

‘It’s an unpredictable industry and you never really know what will happen,’ said Helen. ‘I just want to work consistently. Jersey Boys is such a well written and directed show, so slick, clever and classy. I forget it’s such a big deal and I am thrilled to be a part of it.’ w

Booking until February 2016