A 10-YEAR-OLD school pupil from Torfaen is a rising star in the theatre world after landing the lead role of Simba in The Lion King.

Jude Blake, who attends Goytre Fawr Primary School near Pontypool, is one of six Simbas currently starring in the Disney production of The Lion King at Bristol Hippodrome.

Jude has been singing and dancing at a dance academy for two years, and has previously starred in a four-week run of 'South Pacific' in Bristol, alongside EastEnders actress Samantha Womack.

Jude's mum Leanne said: "I still can't believe it's him on stage and I've seen the show four times. During the first half he's constantly on stage singing, dancing and talking.

"He has really enjoyed meeting the other actors and in the future I think he would either like to go into the drama industry or be a footballer."

Jude described the experience as "really fun".

He said: "The other actors are really kind and ask how you are. They're awesome and so tall.

"I get nervous before going on stage but that's normal to help you persevere. I love it."

Jude, whose favourite subject at school is history, said he misses his friends when he is away acting.

Teaching assistant at the school Kerrie Grosvenor described Jude's achievement as "amazing".

She said: "I couldn't believe it when I heard Jude would be Simba, he has done amazingly well. He always has a smile on his face and his classmates say, 'Jude is so cool, we think he's awesome'."

The Bristol production runs until November 17 before it moves to Manchester on December 1. For ticket information visit www.atgtickets.com