TOM Milner had to go to dark places for his role as Johnny, a boy who escapes the suburbs and loses his way, in rock musical American Idiot.

The Northowram actor is delivering a powerful, haunting performance as the protagonist of the cult show, inspired by US punk band Green Day’s Grammy-winning 2004 concept album.

“Johnny leaves home with five dollars in his pocket and buys a bus ticket to the city. He lost his dad at an early age and his mum and stepdad don’t care about him. He’s in the city alone, and his life de-rails,” says Tom.

“As humans, we all have addictions. But heroin is something else. Johnny’s addiction consumes him, he loses everything. I did research, and one-to-one sessions with the director. Playing Johnny is very dark, there’s a two-minute scene of me taking drugs which is just silence. It’s a role that shows off my acting ability, but I have to take time to mentally switch off after each performance.

“But it’s such a privilege to be in this show. I grew up listening to American Idiot; it heavily influenced me.”

The show is about three friends, each searching for meaning in a post 9/11 world. The score includes Green Day hits Boulevard of Broken Dreams, 21 Guns, Wake Me Up When September Ends, Holiday and the title track, as well as songs from the 21st Century Breakdown album and unreleased love song When It’s Time.

Tom, 27, joins former X Factor finalists Luke Friend and Sam Lavery in the Tony-winning musical’s 10th anniversary tour.

“It was daunting at first - this show means so much to Green Day fans - but they’ve given it a really good reception,” says Tom. “It’s dark, but I think there’s hope in there. Sometimes we need to lose everything to realise what we have.

“Green Day’s music speaks to a generation. The album responded to the 9/11 attacks, and we’re still dealing with terrorism and the fall-out of US politics. This show is about the youth’s mistrust of society and government - some might say that’s more relevant now than ever before, when you consider who has the power in America.”

Tom’s acting career began at the age of 13 in children’s TV show Barking. He later joined the BBC’s hit school drama Waterloo Road as troubled teen Paul Langley, and went on to be in Holby City and SKY1 drama Starlings. His theatre credits include We’ll Live and Die in These Towns and Waterbabies.

It all started at Stardom School for Performing Arts in Shelf, and Tom credits those early lessons with shaping his career. “Discipline was the biggest thing Stardom taught me, I’ve carried that with me,” he says. “My teacher, Liz Davies, was just perfect. She was a huge influence. Hopefully she’s coming to see me at the Alhambra this week.

“I didn’t want to go (to Stardom) at first though - I just wanted to play football. I thought it would be little girls doing ballet. But when I discovered acting, it was the best thing. There was no going back.”

He was a star pupil, landing his first TV role while still at school. Barking, filmed in North Yorkshire, was a CITV series about a girl with a talking dog, voiced by Will Mellor. “Working with cameras was a whole new discipline, a great learning curve,” says Tom. “When I got Waterloo Road, I was only meant to be in one episode and I ended up in it for three years. It was the best training on the job I could’ve had, working with actors like Neil Morrissey and Eva Pope.”

Tom is also an accomplished singer and competed on The Voice UK in 2016, coached by Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson. “You’d pay a lot of money for the expertise of those judges; it was a great experience,” says Tom. “I still love singing and I’ve been writing an EP on tour.”

“It’s my absolute dream to be at the Alhambra. I watched shows as a kid there. I was pipped to the post for a role in The King and I there. Fifteen years later, I’m finally on that stage.”

lAmerican Idiot is at the Alhambra until Saturday. Call (01274) 432000.