THE last time Morgan Jackson’s family got the chance to see him on stage it was in pantomime at Bolton’s Albert Halls at Christmas. This week he’s back in Manchester as one of the stars of Heathers the Musical.

“The last two big shows I’ve done have been in London so it’s great that my family and friends can actually get to see what I do,” said Bolton-born Morgan.

Heathers the Musical is based on the cult Eighties’ movie starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. With storylines including bullying, sex, suicide and murder it’s not your usual musical.

“That’s the thing,” said Morgan, “it does touch on some very dark subjects but it also extremely funny. It manages to get the point across but in a way that audiences love.”

Morgan plays Ram Sweeney, one of two typical high school ‘jocks’. Alex Woodward plays Kurt Kelly his sparring partner.

“In the first act we are quite horrible,” laughed Morgan, “we really are. Then in the second act we are more of a comedy duo. I don’t want to spoil it but something happens that makes us a bit more likeable and the audience starts to forgive us.

“But it’s so nice to play a character with a nasty side. I did Mamma Mia in the West End with Alex last year and so we already had a great rapport and that connection has really helped this time.

“The way we bounce off each other on stage is quite special I think. We don’t need to say anything, we just know what each of us is going to do and we can react to it.”

As well as Mamma Mia, Morgan has also in the Wedding Singer and pre-Covid was in the UK tour of Fame which opened in Manchester.

“Again that was great because a lot of my friends and family could get to see me,” he said. “And now with this show I get the chance to come back to Manchester and then a couple of weeks later we’re in Blackpool which isn’t too far away from home either.”

Morgan took his first steps on to the stage as a member of Dawson’s Academy of Dance and Stage in Bolton winning a talent competition singing Great Balls of Fire when he was nine.

Heathers the musical has developed a real cult following and is proving a massive hit with younger audiences - the majority of whom weren’t even born when the movie came out.

“I think the film came out in 1988 and I was born until 1994,” said Morgan, “and I’m one of the older ones in the cast. I had heard of the film but I didn’t watch it until the day before we started rehearsals for the show. The film really is dark - I much prefer this show.

“And it’s clear that our audiences love it. It’s weird when you see all these young people coming to the theatre dressed up as characters - it’s a bit like going to the Rocky Horror Show, it’s almost a new version of that.

“But they are so invested in it. They know the jokes before we have even said them which can sometimes be a little disconcerting. It’s crazy how much they enjoy it.”

What makes the success of the musical more remarkable is that it is very much a story of American high school life.

“Maybe because we have seen so many movies showing life in high schools it holds a certain mystique for people, I really don’t know,” said Morgan. “Mine and Alex’s characters are real jocks. We get to wear the high school football jackets which is something we just don’t have here but once we have put them one we really feel in character.”

It would be all too easy for the show to sanitise some of the storylines but Morgan is delighted at the way it strikes the right balance.

“It definitely tackles some difficult subject matter head on,” he said. “But hopefully that will connect with the audience. If you are being bullied it might show you that there is something beyond that and there is hope or if you are a bully it might get you to realise your actions have real consequences.

“But, and this is the really clever thing about the show, it is also so hugely entertaining. I went to see the last tour as I had some friends in it. I really didn’t know what to expect and it was so fast, there was so much happening and it was so funny, I loved it - I’m glad I saw it as an audience member because I can understand the appeal.”

Morgan will be on the road with Heathers until the end of October.

“I’ve loved touring,” he said. “It keeps everything fresh knowing you have different audiences in different cities every week. And those audience definitely react in different ways depending what part of the country you are in - but they have all loved it.”

So what next?

“I’m at the stage where I will start looking,” he said. “But I’d love to try some TV work. I’d love to do a soap, something like Coronation Street. But it’s such a competitive profession and there are so many talented people out there, you never know what might be next.”

Heathers the Musical is at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday and at Blackpool Opera House from September 12 to 16