A ST HELENS performer is living her dream in New York after bagging two leading lady roles in Off-Broadway shows.

With a love of singing and performing from a young age, Bethany McDonald caught the love of musical theatre from Stage Pro stage school in Warrington and decided to take her career in this direction.

Graduating from Priestly College in Warrington, she went on to train in musical theatre at the Institute of the Arts in Barcelona at 18 and later at the Bird College of Dance in Kent.

St Helens Star: Bethany has been performing from a young ageBethany has been performing from a young age

However, seriously injuring her back during her time in Kent, Bethany said this was a "big turning point" as she left the college to focus on all aspects of musical theatre and performing, rather than purely dance.

After a last-minute successful audition at the London School of Musical Theatre, Bethany acquired an agent for her career and then worked as part of the all-singing, all-dancing entertainment on Royal Caribbean cruises.

This was until the pandemic, which "completely ruined [her] plans" and ground her entire industry to a halt.

Planning to move back to St Helens for a couple of weeks, Bethany spent 18 months back in her hometown as she auditioned remotely for plays and shows in the UK and US.

St Helens Star: Bethany has had a lot of ups and downs on her journeyBethany has had a lot of ups and downs on her journey

It was back in St Helens when she got the "amazing" offer to become the leading lady in an Off-Broadway (which are theatres slightly smaller than those on Broadway) original show, Mike & Mindy’s Wild Weekend Jam.

However, getting this offer during the height of the pandemic kickstarted an intensely stressful 15-month period, with Bethany going through multiple application processes and spending thousands of pounds in order to acquire a work visa.

St Helens Star: It took Bethany 15 months to apply for a work visa in AmericaIt took Bethany 15 months to apply for a work visa in America

Bethany, 26, said: "It has been a really difficult process to get where I am now.

"During covid, all performances grinded to a halt and forced everyone out of work. I know some people who left the industry because they couldn't wait around for work.

"My visa application was the most stressful experience that I've ever been through as I had to go for multiple interviews, spend thousands of pounds and even make a case to be exempt from the travel ban.

"I really did think if it was worth it but I thought if I don't try now, I'll never know if I could have made it to New York."

St Helens Star: There have been great reviews of her two shows in New YorkThere have been great reviews of her two shows in New York

As her visa was approved just a day before her flights were booked to America, Bethany went on to wow crowds in the sold-out Mike and Mindy shows.

Following her performances in her debut Off-Broadway shows, Bethany was picked up for a second leading lady role in 'Brilliance', which characterises the life of Hollywood star Frances Farmer.

This run of shows finished at the end of April, and Bethany said she is now focused on getting as many roles as possible as she aims to reach the "end goal" of Broadway shows.

St Helens Star: Bethany said the Ney York shows have been an "amazing experience"Bethany said the Ney York shows have been an "amazing experience"

Bethany added: "It's been an amazing experience performing in these shows in New York, and they have both had great reviews too.

"My family are still coming over to watch my shows here and they have been so supportive. After everything that has happened, I can't believe it's really true and I'm here.

"I've always followed my gut and it's all worked out so far. I just want to perform and audition in as many shows as I can and reach Broadway shows - which is the end goal."

St Helens Star: Bethany hopes to perform in New York for as long as possibleBethany hopes to perform in New York for as long as possible