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Aisle be seeing you - in the West End!

PUBLISHED: 10:27 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 17:22 25 August 2010

AN ACTRESS who lost faith in her dream of treading the boards in the West End opted to stack shelves in a supermarket instead only to bag the starring role in a musical about a jazz legend.

AN ACTRESS who lost faith in her dream of treading the boards in the West End opted to stack shelves in a supermarket instead only to bag the starring role in a musical about a jazz legend.

After too many knockbacks, Hope Augustus, 45, from Woolwich, had given up on a West End career and decided to get a 'real job' stacking shelves at Asda in Bugsby Way, Charlton.

But 18 months later, she got the call that she had been hoping for and was offered to star in a bold musical written by Bonnie Greer about the friendship between Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald.

And supportive staff at Asda have given Ms Augustus four weeks off work to rehearse and perform the play Marilyn & Ella at the Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. She said: "The support I have been given is overwhelming. Manage- meant and all the staff have been right behind me and incredibly generous - and lots of them have come to see the show."

But two years ago, despite previous roles in The Lion King and The Goodbye Girl, she thought her dreams of West End stardom had come to an end.

"I was getting down to the last one or two in auditions but never getting the part," she explained. "My financial situation was getting pretty dire so I decided to get a job."

When she was knocked back for the part of 'Lady Ella' when the show opened at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Ms Augustus said it was the "last straw".

She added: "I thought I had down the best audition of my lifetime and I was just destroyed that I didn't get the part. There were a series of things that got me down but at the time that was the last straw.

"So I thought 'what am I going to do with the rest of my life?'"

She went to the job centre and found a job advertised for stacking shelves in Asda but after discovering her bubbly personality, her manager persuaded her to work in customer service.

She has since been promoted to organising events and charity fundraising for staff.

However director Colin MacFarlane had not forgotten her and, when the production transferred to the West End, rang her at home to offer her the part.

Starring alongside Suzie Kennedy as Marilyn Monroe, the play focuses on the friendship formed by the two stars.

In the 1950s, Fitzgerald was not permitted to perform in 'white only' clubs but her great admirer Marilyn Monroe convinced the owner of the prestigious club Mocambo to book her, marking a turning point in her career and music history.

Ms Augustus is appearing in the final performance at the Apollo this Sunday, November 29 at 3.30pm and 7.30pm. For tickets call 0844 412 4658 or see www.marilynandella.com for details.

She will also perform cabaret solo at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Baring Street, Hoxton from December 2 to 4, call 0207 704 6665 or go to www.rosemarybranch.co.uk for more details.

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