Jersey Boys to return to Empire theatre with Sunderland-born West End actor in leading role

West End musical The Jersey Boys is returning to Wearside – with a Sunderland-born actor in the leading role.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 4:32 pm
West End actor Michael Pickering will be heading home to perform on the Empire stage

Former Thornhill School pupil Michael Pickering from Washington will return to the role of Frankie Valli in the tour, which charts the highs and lows of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

He’ll be joined in the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning musical by Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi, with Blair Gibson as Bob Gaudio and Dalton Wood as Tommy DeVito when the tour heads to Sunderland Empire from March 22 to April 2, 2022.

Luke Suri will also play Frankie Valli at certain performances.

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Michael, second from left, and the Jersey Boys cast

The musical is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe and features the famous band’s hits including Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), Big Girls Don’t Cry, My Eyes Adored You, Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You.

As well as Jersey Boys, Michael has appeared in a string of hit West End shows including Wicked, Grease, Mamma Mia and Jesus Christ Superstar.

He’s one in a number of successful actors to have attended Thornhill School, which has also helped foster the careers of West End actor Gary Watson, known for his roles in Les Miserables, Matilda the Musical, Strictly Ballroom and more, and Ben Foster who, as well as winning ITV’s Superstar, has played the lead role in Phantom of the Opera.

*Jersey Boys plays Sunderland Empire from March 22 to April 2, 2022. Tickets priced from £13 from 0844 871 7615

Michael's passion for theatre was sparked by drama lessons at Thornhill School

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