WEST End actress Emma Dears is most recognised for her TV roles in Hollyoaks, Brookside, and, more recently, Emmerdale, but now she is treading the boards in her own show Judy & Liza.

The story of the famous mother and daughter, Judy Garland and Liza Minelli, provided Emma with the basis for a funny, yet poignant, stage show. She is currently touring the UK and will be stopping off in Swindon.

“It came from my time in the West End when these Americans would hang round the stage door, frequently comparing me to Liza Minelli,’’ said Emma.

“I was asked to play her in a Monte Carlo concert so I looked into the relationship. It is fascinating that from one family you should get two such iconic people. But I am not a stalker, more of a Judy Garland a fan,” she added.

From that investigation Emma wrote and developed the musical biopic, telling the story through song, photos and video clips.

“It is a moving and tragic story including the influences of all the husbands, the uncanny parallels between their lives and the songs they sang, for example Lisa talking about her mum and how she died in Smile,’’ said Emma.

Taking on the role of Judy Garland is Helen Sheals, who was the first person seen in the first episode of Downton Abbey, where she played the post mistress. This is her first UK tour and Emma says she brings a vulnerability to the role. She was performing in Judy Judy Judy at the West End Leicester Square Theatre before Emma snapped her up.

Emma’s own West End adventures include playing Rizzo in Grease with Shane Richie, and Mary Magdalene in Bill Kenwright’s Jesus Christ Superstar.

“I had a great relationship with Shane, he was supportive and kind. We toured Germany together.

“Jesus Christ Superstar was my swansong because family life is not great in the West End. A lot of actors are so passionate they sacrifice everything in pursuit but I don’t want to be a star. My ideal is small character parts showing my versatility.’’

And she got her chance in the soaps, which she says were really lovely to work on and a great experience. Emma has also done straight acting, starring in Helen Forrester’s play Twopence To Cross The Mersey in 2015, and has been invited back to feature in the sequel, which begins touring in October.

“Mine is a horrible character, but it’s nice to get something you can get your teeth into,’’ said Emma.

The curtain rises on Judy and Liza, which features all the favourite numbers including including Cabaret, Maybe This Time, The Man That Got Away and the epic Over The Rainbow and a few not so well known tunes, on Sunday, March 25 at 7.30pm in Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre. Tickets are £28.50 from 01793 524481 or visit www.swindontheatres.co.uk - Flicky Harrison