A YOUNG has actor returned to his old school to deliver a masterclass in the dramatic arts.

Darragh Cowley is currently starring as the leading man Melchior in the acclaimed pop-rock-romp Spring Awakening at the Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats.

He took time out from rehearsals and performances to lecture the aspiring thespians at St Ambrose College.

Darragh, aged 20, of Heaton Chapel, originally left the college in 2013 to take a course in musical theatre in Pendleton, before heading south to the Guildford School of Acting, from where he is hoping to graduate from with a degree in musical theatre.

He told pupils: “The best piece of advice I could give is that acting is a serious career choice.

“It is achievable, but you can't just dabble in it and hope you will hit the big time. You have to study, you have to train, and you have to think of it as a career path.”

One of St Ambrose's top athletes and rugby players, Darragh brings his athleticism to his work, but says acting is far more academic than physical.

He said: “The best actors are behavioural psychologists. You can learn about the history of the theatre, about stagecraft and projection in the classroom, but the best actors engage with people and see how they click outside the classroom and bring that to their work.”

Darragh starred in many St Ambrose productions, notably Bugsy Malone, but further developed his passion for the stage at the Ohana Youth Theatre, formerly Plaza Youth Theatre in Stockport, and was full of praise for those teachers, directors and producers who inspire the next generation.

“All the great actors were inspired to pursue their dreams and I had great teachers both at St Ambrose and at the Plaza.”

The college's head of drama, Mair Bull, who was one of Darragh's most influential teachers, said: “He always had star quality, not just as an actor, but as a young man and we all think he's a star for taking time out of an incredibly busy schedule to inspire the next generation.”

Darragh Cowley with, from left to right, Mark Festus, Ben Liversage and Dylan McLaren