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Adam Thomas on his Nativity stage debut at the Liverpool Empire

“Normally you start off on stage as an actor and then work up to TV. But I did it the other way around,” explains actor Adam Thomas.

“I started doing TV work at 16, and now at the age of 30 I’m making my debut on stage. And in a musical! What have I got myself in to?

“But hopefully I’ll do the role justice.”

I’ve caught up with the Mancunian for a chat ahead of his stage debut next week – yes, at the grand old age of 30 – in Nativity! the Musical which pays its first visit to the Liverpool Empire.

He is appearing as the Hollywood producer in the touring show at the Empire and in Stoke (other guest performers on the tour include fellow soap stars Charlie Brooks, Jake Wood and EastEnders and real-life royalty Danny Dyer).

Does that mean it’s a bit like the voice of God in Spamalot! or the narrator in Rocky Horror, a cameo for a household name to pop up in?

“I don’t know,” he admits. “I’m not on stage through the whole thing. But he’s a Hollywood producer, and he’s come over to the UK to watch the nativity and try and turn it in to a film.

“It’s an exciting little role. I’ve never been on stage before so I’m looking forward to it.”

It’s true Thomas has spent his acting life so far on screen. He joined the then new Waterloo Road when he was 16, playing schoolboy Donte Charles for four series before going on to become a soap regular in Emmerdale for over eight years.

Nativity! the Musical. Photo by Richard Davenport

His character, Adam Barton, had a typically torrid time in the ITV favourite, committing arson, finding out his uncle was his real dad, suffering fertility issues and then finally confessing to a murder (of Liverpool actress Gillian Kearney’s character Emma) he didn’t commit.

In between the dad-of-two also had time to pack in guest appearances in Doctors and to take part in I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! where he came third.

Would he ever be enticed back to the security of a long-running show?

“Never say never,” he answers. “In this industry you’re very lucky to take on roles that are long running because it’s a great opportunity to hone your craft.

“I was in Emmerdale for eight years and Waterloo Road for four. It’s all I’ve ever known really. I’ve been lucky in that respect. Right now, I’m just being a jobbing actor and getting myself out there and just trying to build my name and keep working really. That’s all I want to do.”

Of course, he’s not the only jobbing actor in the family. Older brother Ryan spent 16 years in Coronation Street, while the brothers’ dad is also an entertainer with a good singing voice.

Given that Nativity! the Musical is, well, a musical, that pedigree must surely help?

Not necessarily, as Thomas admits: “Even though my dad can sing, I can’t hold a note to save my life! It’s going to be a challenge, but I don’t think I’ve got any big solos in there so I’m not too worried about it.”

He could always draw on his experience of performing in his own school nativity as a child.

Nativity! the Musical. Photo by Richard Davenport

“I played one of the Three Kings when I was at primary school,” he reveals. “I remember the We Three Kings of Orient Are rap.”

Now that would be worth seeing recreated.

While there’s not a We Three Kings of Orient Are rap in writer/director Debbie Isitt’s show, adapted from her hit film of the same name, there are plenty of festive musical treats including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth and She’s the Brightest Star in a feelgood story about the staff and pupils at St Bernadette’s and their attempt to stage their own memorable Nativity.

Thomas hopes his appearance could lead to more stage work – although with a family to support he admits he has to keep all his options open.

In fact, he’s just finished filming a new TV series for Liverpool’s LA Productions titled Pitching In, alongside a cast that includes Larry Lamb and Hayley Mills, and which is due to be screened on the BBC next year.

“It was six weeks’ filming in Wales,“ he explains. “We were filming on a caravan site, and it was like a little holiday to be honest. We just had such a good laugh and the cast were brilliant. It was a really nice job to work on.

“My character is called Jake and he’s one of the campers who lives on the site.

“It’s a nice little comedy drama and I’m sure everyone is going to enjoy it.”

In the meantime, there’s the little matter of learning his role for Nativity! the Musical. He’s particularly looking forward to his four-year-old son Teddy coming to see him perform on the Empire stage during the Liverpool run (daughter Elsie-Rose is too young to appreciate the full Nativity experience).

“I’m only about half-an-hour away. So I get to go home every night and see the family, and they get to come and watch it.”

Nativity! the Musical is at the Liverpool Empire from October 31 to November 4. Tickets from the website HERE

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