42nd Street performer becomes first to job-share in West End history

Charlene Ford was initially told that she could not work part-time after the birth of Jenson Credit: Charlene Ford

A West End tap dancer has made history by becoming the first actress to share her role as she settles into life as a new mother. Charlene Ford, 33, has been performing in the cast of 42nd Street in the heart of London’s West End since January 2017, even performing the role for the Duchess of Cambridge. She spent her life training to be on the stage, and has so far enjoyed a huge number of roles, including in Cats, Crazy For You and Funny Girl.

Charlene Ford, a member of the ensemble in 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, was initially told it would be impossible for her to return part-time after giving birth, but managers relented after another dancer agreed to share the role. It is thought to be the first such arrangement for cast members

When she became pregnant with her first child, a baby boy called Jenson, even pregnancy couldn’t slow her down. She continued performing in the show up until just two months before she was due to give birth.

Charlene will be doing three shows a week, and Jenny Legg, the actress who had been covering her role, doing the other five shows.

Parents in Performing Arts, a campaign group, described it as a landmark moment that would enable other actors to benefit from job sharing.