TWINNIE-LEE Moore is on holiday in Egypt this week, resting up before resuming the tour of Chicago that brings her back to the York stage where her career began.

The actress with the distinctive name first caught the eye in pantomime at the Grand Opera House, going on to play principal roles in Oliver! and Annie for the theatre’s Summer Youth Project, culminating in her lead role as Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz in 2003.

Dorothy returned to Kansas, and Twinnie-Lee left for Blackpool at the age of only 16, studying dance and musical three days a week at Phil Winston’s Theatre Works while working in York for the rest of the week.

Still only 21, and already groomed in the ways of the West End, Twinnie-Lee admits to a bout of butterflies as she prepares to play her home city, where the former Joseph Rowntree School pupil grew up in Neville Street, Haxby Road.

“It’s terrifying!” she says, as she contemplates Monday’s opening night, when, as ever, she will open the show picked out by a spotlight as Velma emerges through the trap door on a platform lift to sing the finger-clicking All That Jazz.

“I cannot imagine how I’m going to feel in York; it’s surreal coming back to the place where I was in pantos from the age of eight. I’d rather be in front of 3,000 strangers than all my family – and I was nervous doing it at the Sunderland Empire because my dad lives in Darlington and came up for the show.”

Twinnie-Lee was destined for the musicals from the moment she took her first steps at Isobel Dunn’s School Of Dance in York, and she made her West End bow at 19 in Autumn 2006 in the Queen musical We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre, after impressing guitarist Brian May and choreographer Arlene Phillips in the auditions.

Subsequently she appeared in the West End world premiere of the musical Desperately Seeking Susan, and returned to the Grand Opera House for one night only last year on the Thriller Live tour. Now she is undertaking the Chicago tour for a year, fresh from the rebellious lead role of Ariel in the national tour of Footloose.

Playing Velma at such a young age has still come as a surprise to her. “I’d auditioned for Chicago, for the ensemble in the West End, and got close but I’d never been chosen, but having done Ariel, now I was up for leads… and I walked into the auditions and there was Emma Barton from EastEnders and a few celebrities and people who had done it before.

“I was quite surprised when I got the job because I was up against those people; sometimes I thought ‘I shouldn’t be here’.”

Here she is nevertheless, starring alongside Barton’s Roxie Hart and Jimmy Osmond’s scheming lawyer, Billy Flynn, having established her pedigree as a singer, dancer and actress.

Velma is somewhat older than Twinnie-Lee, but such is the magic of theatre that Twinnie-Lee can transform herself into the vaudeville performer turned celebrity-seeking double-murderess.

“She’s a middle-aged woman who’s hungry for stardom, and I’m only 21. It’s completely different from anything I’ve done before: a classy musical with great songs and Bob Fosse’s amazing choreography,” she says.

“I haven’t come through the ranks so it’s hard, but it’s also amazing. I’m hoping to go further in this profession, but I feel like I’ve peaked already as this is the role I’ve always wanted to play.”

The tour will run until next February, and it will be an endurance test, albeit an enjoyable one. “It’s really hard work: I have these big numbers where I can end out of breath, so it’s all down to fitness and stamina,” says Twinnie-Lee.

She prefers not to look too far ahead, particularly after Desperately Seeking Susan closed only six weeks into its year-long run: a bruising introduction into the harsh realities of theatre at the age of 20.

“But you never know with this business who’s watching, so I never know where I’ll be in the next year,” says Twinnie-Lee. “I would like to do a bit of TV, but I’m happy doing musicals. I love them!”

Chicago, Grand Opera House, York, April 20 to 25; performances at 7.30pm, Monday to Thursday, 5pm and 8.30pm, Friday and Saturday. Tickets: £17 to £35 on 0844 847 2322 or