GETTING the chop may be the best thing that ever happened to a Westhoughton actor – leading the way for a magical new career path.

Amy Berry is now regularly cut in half in front of spellbound audiences after chance led to her becoming an assistant for professional magician Jamie Allan.

Ms Berry is starring in Mr Allen's 23-date touring show iMagician, blending projection technology with sleight of hand and illusion, which is coming to the Manchester Opera House this Sunday.

The 29-year-old, who grew up in Park Road but now lives in London, is the daughter of Houghton Weavers lead vocalist Tony Berry.

She said: “I had no experience of magic — my background was in dancing and educational theatre — but when I saw a casting for a magician’s assistant it sounded quite exciting so I went for it.

“Since then, things have completely snowballed.

“I really enjoy this — I am getting to perform, which is all I have ever really wanted to do — and it is becoming quite a success.

“The reaction you get from an audience is why I love it so much, and you get to go to some amazing theatres.”

During the iMagician show, Ms Berry is chopped in half by Mr Allen while lying in a clear box.

The same trick was performed on her by comedian Rufus Hound on ITV celebrity talent show Get Your Act Together.

Ms Berry and her fellow assistant also padlock Mr Allen into handcuffs for the show’s Houdini water tank finale, in which he attempts to escape from the tank as time ticks on.

After graduating from the University of Salford in 2007 with a performing arts degree, Ms Berry worked in Spain for touring educational group The English Theatre Company.

Since becoming Mr Allen's assistant she has been honing her own skills in the art of magic, and is now part of female illusion show Chicks 'n' Tricks.

The four-piece will perform on Royal Caribbean cruises in Europe throughout the summer, beginning this July.

Ms Berry praised drama teacher Beverly Hill, who taught her at The Withins School in Breightmet, and dance instructor Anne Collier from the Anna Christie School of Dance in Bolton as her inspirations.

She will also perform in The Mermaid in the Gherkin Jar, a family production by the Northern Rose Physical Theatre Company, which features just two performers and is based on a book of the same name, at The Lowry on September 13.