A BEAMING smile, a booming voice and bags of dedication are the ingredients that could set a Burnley girl on a road to the West End.
Abigail Scarlett Howard is now a well-known face around the country thanks to her appearances over six weeks on the hit television show “Take Me Out”, but it’s the theatres of London’s West End that really appeal to the 21-year-old. But first she enjoyed a trip to the Isle of Fernandos with car salesman James from the show.
Abi, of Middlesex Avenue, was bitten by the acting bug when she landed the role of the Wicked Witch in a school production of “Wizard of Oz” when she was nine at St Augustine’s RC Primary School, Lowerhouse.
From that day on singing, dancing and performing took over Abi’s life.
“We used to go to Pontins on holiday a lot when I was young, and I used to enter talent competitions to win holidays back. We ended up going back for years – I think I drove everyone crazy! I just love the adrenaline rush of performing, and like the idea it makes people happy.”
After attending St Hilda’s RC High, the next two years were spent at Accrington and Rossendale College where Abi gained a BTEC National Diploma (Triple Distinction) before winning a Dance and Drama scholarship to study at the Liverpool Theatre School. From there she continued her musical theatre studies at the SLP College in Leeds.
“I’ve really enjoyed everywhere I’ve been and I’m now at Bolton College of Dance and Performing Arts. It is hard work and I’m up early every morning training my voice as well as doing a daily work-out.
“I don’t drink or smoke and very rarely go out to pubs which is partly why I went on ‘Take Me Out’ as I’ve never had a proper boyfriend. It’s been crazy the last few weeks because now even train conductors are asking me out, and I’ve been stopped in the street a few times. It’s funny.”
Abi started ballet at the age of three at Miss Claire’s Dance School, Rosegrove, before attending Helen O’Grady’s Drama Academy, Colne, and later Burnley Youth Theatre. At t11 she joined Basics Junior Theatre School and KLF Dance Academy where she continued training for six years.
Yet Abi’s biggest influence remains her grandma, former Burnley councillor Marlene Disley.
“I spend a lot of my time at my nanna’s practising my singing. She’s been brilliant and doesn’t mind me singing my head off early in the morning.
“I have stayed in the North-West to do all my training as I wanted to stay close to my family. I get loads of support and encouragement from them, especially my two younger sisters Gabrielle and Georgia.”
Abi, who has appeared as an extra in several television programmes and commercials, is not one to let the grass grow under her feet.
She has signed on to the New York Film Academy acting course in London later this year. Major Hollywood A-listers including Al Pacino, Pierce Brosnan and Sharon Stone have sent their children to the school in the past.
She added: My dream is to appear in a West End musical or on my favourite television programme ‘Coronation Street’ That would be brilliant.”