A STAGE school welcomed back two former pupils – now stars of screen and stage – to an open day celebrating the opening of its new building.

Bernese School Of Theatre and Dance has moved from the Empire Theatre in Blackburn to Senna House, Tontine Street.

And Coronation Street star, Alex Bain, and dancer in the raunchy musical Magic Mike Live, Harry Carter, were guests of honour at the open day which offered dance and drama taster sessions.

Currently performing in Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike Live shows at The Hippodrome, London, 20-year-old dancer Harry, from Feniscowles, thanked Bernese for helping boost his career.

He said: “I joined Bernese when I was 13, and there were not many lads. But they were good to me and helped me channel my energy to the right area of focus.

“I come back here sometimes because I’m thankful to them. You have to let people know where your roots are. This was my foundation."

His dancing skills have really come to the fore for Magic Mike Live, which is based on the comedy film series based on a troupe of male strippers.

He said: “There’s always an amazing response, because it’s dancing that is made to connect with our audience. It’s not just a stereotypical thing people might see, it’s about dance and interaction with women.”

Alex, 17, has played Simon Barlow in Britain's biggest soap since 2008.

He said: “This is where I started many years ago. It was a small place then, but I can see how much it is growing now.

“At Bernese, there is a family unit. You’re guided even after you leave, it doesn’t make a difference who you are.”

Between dancing and acting, Alex also juggles being a first-time dad to Lydia.

He said: “I have a good family that keep me going, but it is hard, and I’m always so busy. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The dance and drama school was given a grant by Blackburn with Darwen Council in efforts to help re-generate the area, and principal Bernadette Bolton also invested £20,000 into her school.

She said: “Thanks to the help of Claire Turner from the council we received a grant as she thought it would really help to bring in more people into the town centre. Our new premises are now equipped to an amazing high standard with this help."

Workshops at the open day included, ballet, modern and tap, hip hop, jazz, acro, drama and musical theatre.

Mum of three Janene Parkinson took along 13-year-old daughter Evelyn to take part in a jazz taster class.

She said: “They’ve been really friendly and welcoming to us all. They helped us find the classes and Evelyn feels at home. She wants to do things like jazz and ballet, but it’s also made my two younger children want to get involved as well.”

For more information on the school, visit https://www.bernesetheatredance.co.uk/