Final curtain call for stage star Leyci

A YOUNG starlet will take her final curtain call in West End musical Billy Elliot tonight.

Leyci Wightman has played the role of ballet dancer Debbie Wilkinson at the Victoria London Palace for two years.

But the 12-year-old, from Biddick Hall, South Shields, is hanging up her ballet shoes to enjoy holidays with her mum and get her first proper haircut!

The Mortimer Community College pupil had to grow her hair long for the role, and only got a few days off at a time.

So she's looking forward to sporting a new hairstyle and sunning herself in Majorca with mum Vikki.

Leyci said: "I can't wait to get my hair cut, we might even try to find somewhere open tomorrow.

"I have loved every minute, but I have been there two years and it's just too long. I could have stayed longer, but I chose not to."

Her proud mum added: "I'll miss watching the show. I've lost count of how many times I have watched it, I gave up counting a long time ago.

But two years was a long time for one show, but if anything else came up, I think she'd do it in a flash."

Despite being ready to leave when producers asked her to stay, Leyci knows tonight is going to be tough.

She said: "I have quite mixed feelings about my final show.

"I'm going to be sad, but it will be nice to come back home and get back to normal life. I'll really miss all the friends in London."

Miss Wightman added: "It was her decision, but she has been tearful.

"I don't think she wanted to leave all the friends she's made, but people are coming to stay with us in the summer and she can still go down to visit."

Leyci, who also performed as Jemima in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Sunderland Empire when she was 10, is going to Manchester next week to audition for an agency.

Leyci said: "I hope it goes well, as I'd love to do TV and film work.

"But whatever comes along, I really don't mind."

She added: "I want to thank my mam, family, dance and singing teachers and everyone who's helped me get to this point."

Leyci will be attending an aftershow and farewell party tonight with three other actors who are giving their final performances.

Casting director Jessica Ronane said: "She's the epitome of Debbie, and she'll be greatly missed. We have loved her playing the part.

"She's done a great job and she'll not only be missed by us, but by the Billy Elliot audience regulars as well."

Leyci is the third South Tyneside Debbie to leave the show, following Lucy Stephenson, from South Shields, and Brooke Havanna Bailey, from Cleadon.

Scarlet Embleton, from South Shields, is currently performing in the role.