Dec 27 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
A Coatbridge youngster who wowed guests and celebrities at a charity show by belting out Sinatra’s hits will soon be sharing the screen with Angelina Jolie.
Michael Higgins formed part of a “Mini Rat Pack” to perform at festive fundraising lunches in aid of Cash for Kids – but now leaves his bandmates behind for a career in theatre and film.
The 12-year-old, a pupil at St Ambrose High, heads to London on Hogmanay for a nine-month run in hit West End musical Matilda; and has recently finished filming scenes for 2014 film Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie as the villainess from Sleeping Beauty.
He will also be appearing on the big screen next month in The Wee Man, based on the story of Glasgow gangster Paul Ferris, which is due for cinema release early in the new year.
Michael, who is a student at Glasgow Academy Musical Theatre Arts (Gamta), will play Bruce in the London staging of Matilda.
His mum Karina told the Advertiser: “He will be living in London with a family who will chaperone him to and from the performances and we’ll be going to see him often.
“Michael cannot wait to go to London, and has done really well as he competed against hundreds of other boys to the part. Rehearsals last for three months and the show starts in March.”
“His role as young Stefan in Maleficent was filmed in October and November – he got to film scenes with Miranda Richardson and Peter Capaldi and had an absolute ball.”
Michael recently joined Robbie Warke, Daniel Maher and Stephen Allan to perform at the Cash for Kids lunches alongside stars like Hue and Cry, Martin Fry of ABC, X Factor contestants Matt Cardle and Amelia Lily, Scots rockers The View and girl band Stooshe.
Audience members included Scottish celebrities Lorraine Kelly, Michelle Mone and Colin and Justin who were all thrilled with the Mini Rat Pack’s performance, as they displayed not only their cracking singing skills, but also included comedy one-liners just like the famous shows of the 1960s.
Michael was in selfless form when he spoke of his time away from the group to concentrate on acting.
He said: “I’m going to miss Robbie, Daniel and Stephen so much and can’t wait to get back so I can start performing with them again, but I’m also really excited about Matilda.
“The Cash for Kids lunches gave me another glimpse of being a professional singer and actor and that’s what I want to do.
“It’s hard combining our Gamta work with school, but we get through it. We are doing something we love and we want to take the ‘Mini Rat Pack’ as far as we can.”
Karina is beaming with pride about Michael’s progress in the entertainment industry at such a young age.
She said: “We are very, very proud of Michael, and he never ceases to amaze me during his auditions.”