K A T I E   H O L M E S :
The Girl Next Door

Katie Holmes saves the day at arts festival


Actress Charlotte Perry and "The Happening's" Jeremy Strong were slated to perform "One Day When We Were Young," a romantic drama set in Bath, England, at the weekly Readings @ 3 event in Williamstown, Massachusetts on August 17.

But, due to an "unexpected conflict", Perry was forced to cancel, prompting the quick-thinking star to reach out to her pal Holmes as a replacement.

The former "Dawson's Creek" beauty, who has largely steered clear of the spotlight following her split from Tom Cruise, happily obliged and festival director Jenny Gersten insists the 33 year old was a hit, despite her lack of preparation.

She tells the New York Daily News, "Katie arrived Friday morning. She was in rehearsal an hour later... I thought she did great. And with a fine British accent, too."

According to theatergoers present at the surprise, top-secret showing, Holmes -- clad in jeans, a basic white top and a ponytail -- brought her A-game opposite British actor Jeremy Strong. "She capably delivered," one eyewitness said. "She was very focused on the piece."