A musical masterclass with one of Teesside’s own West End stars proved just the ticket for students hoping to put on a purr-fect performance this summer.

Stockton Riverside College is bringing Cats the Musical to the college stage and who better to share some tips than musical performer, Mark Richardson.

Originally from Normanby, the 38-year-old has spent the best part of 20 years on the Cats stage, performing both in London and across Europe.

“People normally do Cats once or twice in their career,” said Mark, but for him there’s no other show quite like it.

Starting his run at 18 as understudy covering eight different roles, before going on to be among the longest running Mr Mistoffelees, there’s few better placed to offer some pointers.

Mark, who was also resident director of the German production and put on his last stage performance in the hit musical at the London Palladium last year, was delighted to be able to share his expertise.

“For me being in Cats was always the ambition,” he said. And despite appearing in other hit musicals including Billy Elliot, Cats was always the one he went back to.

Passing on his enthusiasm to Stockton Riverside College’s Performing Arts students he said: “You have to fully engage yourself in this show. It is an ensemble piece which means you are only ever as good as your weakest link.”

Impressed with the learners’ hard work and dedication, he said: “It’s always nice to be able to share my experience in the North-east, working with upcoming talent close to my hometown.”

Sara Durkin, Stockton Riverside College’s course leader for Performing Arts Musical Theatre, said: “Working with Mark was an amazing opportunity for our students. He has so much knowledge of the show and every character in it.”

And it wasn’t just the students reaping the benefits of his expertise, with staff also picking up some tips.

“Cats is one of the most demanding and challenging shows we have ever done,” said Sara.

“As a performer in a lead role and a former director in the show, Mark has a whole wealth of knowledge that we could draw on.”

Stockton Riverside College’s Musical Theatre students bring Cats the Musical to the college’s Margaret Armstrong Theatre from Wednesday June 14 to Saturday June 17. For tickets visit:

www.ticketsource.co.uk/src/events