Sunderland-born West End star gives tips to aspiring performers

West End actor Michael Pickering talks to students at Sunderland College's Bede Campus
West End actor Michael Pickering talks to students at Sunderland College's Bede Campus
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A Sunderland-born actor who’s stepped into the shoes of one of the greatest singers of all time has been giving students tips on how to shine on stage.

Michael Pickering, 30, from Teal Farm, Washington, is back in his home city for a fortnight as the alternate Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, which is proving a sell-out success at Sunderland Empire.

He discovered his passion for musical theatre at Thornhill School and he’s gone back to the classroom to help inspire budding stage stars.

He took part in a workshop at Sunderland College to talk of his experiences in West End musicals, including Wicked, Grease, Mamma Mia and Jesus Christ Superstar.

He met performing arts students, who are studying BTEC Extended Diploma in Acting and Foundation Degree in Drama programmes, to offer them advice about breaking into the industry, as well as revealing how he made it in the competitive world of acting.

The former Barnes Junior School pupil said: “Coming to Sunderland College and speaking to the students brought back memories of when I was at school and we were all trying to decide what path we wanted to take.

“It’s an exciting but difficult time, as there are so many options and they are still finding themselves.

“I’ve been through everything that they are going through now, and I feel it’s important to share some of my expertise with young performers, to help them make some of those difficult decisions.”

The session was held in Sunderland College’s Arts Academy at Bede Campus,

l Jersey Boys is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.