Former Sunderland schoolboy Michael back home in Batman role

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HOLY starring role – Michael Pickering has come a long way since his days as a Sunderland schoolboy.

Today the 26-year-old is preparing to pull on his green tights as comic book hero Robin in the stage show, Batman Live.

Billed as a show like no other, it uses live action, cutting-edge special effects and circus performers to tell the tale of Batman and his trusty sidekick Robin.

Former Thornhill School pupil Michael graduated from performing arts college five years ago, but since then he has worked almost continuously in the West End in hits such as Wicked, High School Musical, a world tour of Mamma Mia, Grease and more.

He says landing the role of Robin has seen his career hit new heights.

“I’m more used to the musical side of the business,” he explained. “But this show is huge, there has been so much money thrown at it. It’s got fantastic effects and the acrobatics are amazing.

“There is music in it, but it’s more like a film score. There are no songs in it which is very refreshing as it means you can concentrate on the acting, the physical side of it and the safety aspect which is very important as there’s lots of flying.”

He added: “I feel invincible when I put the Robin suit on. It’s unbelievable.”

The Batman Live spectacle will roll into Newcastle Arena later this month giving some of Michael’s friends and family from Teal Farm, Washington, the chance to see him on stage for the first time.

Michael said: “I can’t wait for my family and my grandad to come to the Newcastle show. It means some of my mates from home will be able to see me too – because of work commitments a lot haven’t been able to get down to London to see me there.”

The performing artist only took up singing at 16 after he was persuaded to sing in front of his class for a GCSE music course. It made him realise that he had a talent in performing arts and, aged 18, he moved to London to study the art form.

He said: “If it hadn’t been for my music teacher I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

* Batman Live is at Newcastle Arena from July 27-31. For tickets tel. 0844 493 6666.

Twitter: @SunechoKaty