Ipswich's largest theatre has found its leading lady after budding performers across the town were offered the chance to audition for this year's pantomime.

Eliza Walker, 21, from Rushmere St Andrew, beat 28 other hopefuls to the role of Wendy in open auditions at Regent Theatre on September 25 for its production of Peter Pan.

The role will be Eliza's first professional stage role following her graduation from Evolution Foundation College in Colchester.

“I feel so overwhelmed yet hugely grateful," she said.

"The answer was 100 per cent yes when the call came through offering me the part!

"Hopefully this will be the start of a long career in theatre, I’m so looking forward to getting started on rehearsals and performing on stage at Ipswich Regent Theatre as Wendy in this years’ Christmas pantomime.”

Performances will start at the venue on Friday 16 December and will run until 31 December 2022.

Auditionees were asked to perform extracts from the script in front of a panel of judges, with six finalists recalled to then perform two songs from the show.

Councillor Sophie Connelly, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for culture and customers, said: “It’s so wonderful that a call for local young talent to perform in this year’s pantomime at Ipswich Regent Theatre attracted so much interest.

“With six potential Wendy’s to choose from it really shows that the love of theatre and performance is alive and well in the next generation of stage stars. Well done Eliza on getting the part, we look forward to seeing you singing and dancing on stage this Christmas with the fantastic cast of Peter Pan.”

Speaking on Eliza's audition, producer Guy Pascall, said: "We had a really great day at the theatre auditioning for Wendy.

"The panel had such a difficult decision to make as the standard was so high. There were so many talented local performers, but we're super excited to be working with Eliza this Christmas - she is just perfect for Wendy.

“It's fantastic that we were able to secure local talent for this opportunity, to perform in the region's biggest Christmas pantomime alongside our professional cast."