JUST three years ago he was learning his craft in the studios at Warrington’s Priestley College.
But for one day, student became teacher as James Smalley returned to college with a First from Italia Conti and a wealth of experience to share with this year’s cohort.
He said: “I definitely left Priestley with the tools to do well in London so it is good to be back to share some of what I’ve learned with this year’s students.
“Some of my favourite moments at college were hearing from former students about what they had gone on to do next so I hope I can inspire a few people in the same way.”
During a day at college, James led dance, acting and singing technique classes with Priestley’s Musical Theatre cohorts, many of who share his dream of success on the stage or in TV.
It was a proud moment for tutors to see how much one of their alumni had progressed.
Assistant principal Sarah Graham said: “It was great to have James back and to see him take a leading role in lessons, particularly as it confirmed our standards and expectations allow our students to succeed at the country’s top theatre schools.”
James, a former Great Sankey High pupil, now has an agent and is waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
All this follows three years at Italia Conti Academy, which describes itself as ‘the leading Performing Arts institution in the country’ and a world-renowned centre for excellence.
While at the academy James took the lead of Nathan Detroit in a run of Guys and Dolls and completed his dissertation with a memorable 20-minute, one-man show that secured him a First in Musical Theatre.
One of the first tips he was able to share with Priestley’s current crop of hopefuls was to not expect studying at one of the UK’s leading theatre schools to be easy.
“The pace at which you have to learn is really intense,” he said. “In my first year though I saw lots of shows and being in London has been an amazing experience.
“I’ve made great friends and it really has set me up for where I want to be in life.”