Whatsonstage.com Award-winning actor Jill Halfpenny is currently starring in a revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre. The production, which is directed by Lyndsay Posner, opened in the West End on 15 May following a run at Menier Chocolate Factory in March and is due to run until 1 September.

Gateshead-born Halfpenny plays Beverly, the part made famous by Alison Steadman in the original 1977 Hampstead Theatre production of Abigail's Party.

Halfpenny is best known for playing Rebecca Hopkins in Coronation Street and Kate Mitchell in EastEnders, but has enjoyed considerable success in the West End in recent years. Since appearing in Calendar Girls in 2009, she created the role of Paulette Bonafonté in the West End production of Legally Blonde, which opened in 2010. The performance earned her the 2011 Whatsonstage.com Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, as well as the 2011 Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

In 2004 she won Strictly Come Dancing with professional dance partner Darren Bennett. The pair then went on to win the programme's 2008 Christmas special.

Date of birth?
15 July 1975

Lives now in?
North East London

What made you want to become an actor?
I’m not sure the exact moment... I was just obsessed with performing. I watched Annie in the West End when I was four so maybe that was it.

If you hadn’t become an actor, what might you have done professionally?
Interior design or maybe a buyer for a home store.

First big break?
Byker Grove

Career highlights to date?
The Olivier Award was an amazing highlight, but I've had so many brilliant experiences, I could go on!

Favourite co-stars?
I recently worked with Robert Bathurst and he was an amazing co-star. And of course my current on-stage hubby Mr Andy Nyman is fantastic to work with.

Favourite playwrights?
Arthur Miller and Lee Hall.

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
I was in a production of Sweeney Todd when I was about 11 and it was directed by the late Ken Hill. That had a very lasting effect on me. I was transfixed by the performers and their complete commitment to the piece. Ken was a taskmaster who knew exactly what he wanted and I loved that.

And the last?
I thought Eve Best’s performance as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe last year was completely enchanting.

Do you often get recognised? If so, for which role?
I think it varies between Strictly and EastEnders.

Are there any parts you would particularly like to play?
I don't have a particular role in mind, I just want to do exciting work.

Favourite book?
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Favourite holiday destination?
Santorini.

Why did you want to get involved with this production?
The director, the play, the part, the Chocolate Factory… I could go on.

Was it daunting having Mike Leigh in rehearsals?
Probably one of the most intimidating experiences I’ve ever had in a rehearsal, but thankfully he loved it!

What’s your favourite line in the show?
“Take another one Sue, save me coming back.”

Have you had to change it much for the West End?
Not at all.

What have you got lined up next?
I don't know, but when I do you'll be the first to know!

Come on our hosted Whatsonstage.com Outing on 19 July 2012 and get a top-price ticket, a FREE programme and access to our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A with Jill Halfpenny - all for the INCREDIBLE price of just £30.00!! Click here for info.