WHEN Hayley Tamaddon was offered the starring role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, she didn’t quite know what was in store.

“The wonderful Joanne Clifton (winner of Strictly Come Dancing, 2016) had been in it and, because I’m not a dancer like she is, I thought: ‘They won’t give me all those big dances that she had’. Wrong!” smiles Hayley. “It’s so fast-paced - the dancing, the slapstick, the singing, and I’m on stage the whole time. It’s particularly demanding on my voice, because the singing is so high.

“It leaves me breathless at the end of each show, but I love it. I’m having such a ball - and, hey, I’m 41 and still kicking my legs in the air!”

The musical comedy, based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews and James Fox, is the story of a smalltown girl who arrives in Jazz Age New York City determined to marry for money instead of love - a thoroughly modern concept for 1922.

Millie Dillmount throws herself into the flapper scene - when women were bobbing their hair, raising their hemlines and entering the workforce - and before long there's a love interest or two, with a twist, and madcap goings-on in a hotel embroiled in a white slavery ring...

“Millie's transformation happens in the first number," says Hayley. "She's a brave, sassy girl who finds her voice, at a time when women were becoming more independent. It's quite an apt theme for what's going on in today's world.

"It’s such an uplifting show. It’s two hours of utter escapism, and something audiences of any age will enjoy.

"There are some lovely dance numbers - the Charleston is one of my favourite dances - and the costumes are fabulous. It all sparkles from the moment we're first on stage."

Adds Hayley: "Thoroughly Modern Millie isn't a show that everyone has heard of, but it's worth taking a risk and coming along - the audiences and reviews have been fantastic on tour."

Blackpool-born Hayley is looking forward to returning to the Alhambra, where she has appeared in shows such as Chicago, playing Roxy Hart, and in panto with Billy Pearce. "Ah, Billy...he's such a star. I'd love to work with him again," says Hayley. "I lived in Pudsey for five years, and I love the Alhambra. I have a soft spot for Bradford too."

She shot to fame as feisty Delilah Dingle in Emmerdale, arriving in 2005 in a red sports, wearing a wedding dress, having just jilted her fiance, and she went on to play bubbly Andrea Beckett, girlfriend of Lloyd Mullaney, in Coronation Street from 2013 to 2015.

Hayley trained at Bradford Ice Arena when she took part in the fifth series of Dancing on Ice in 2010 - which she went on to win, with skating partner Daniel Whiston. Their mesmerising Bollywood-style routine to Jai Ho remains a TV highlight.

"I loved it, but sadly I don't get time to skate anymore," says Hayley. "I had happy times on Bradford ice rink."

She has appeared in other TV dramas such as Shameless, Waterloo Road and The Royal, partly filmed in Bradford, and her theatre credits include Grease, A Chorus Line, Mamma Mia!, Fame, The Rocky Horror Show, and sharing the role of the Lady of the Lake with Jodie Prenger and Amy Nuttall in the UK tour of Spamalot.

"I'm lucky to be able to move between TV and theatre. I love both," smiles Hayley. "For now, I'm having a blast as Millie."

* Thoroughly Modern Millie is at the Alhambra from Thursday to Saturday. Call (01274) 432000.