No, I'm Billy Elliot; as Original Actors Move on, Director Daldry Casts His Net Wide and Finds Diverse Young Talent for Lead Role

The Evening Standard (London, England), February 23, 2006 | Go to article overview

No, I'm Billy Elliot; as Original Actors Move on, Director Daldry Casts His Net Wide and Finds Diverse Young Talent for Lead Role


Byline: TOM TEODORCZUK

BILLY ELLIOT, the lad from Tyneside who overcomes parental disapproval to dance his way to the Royal Ballet, has become a West End phenomenon.

But breaking voices and growth spurts mean the young actors who have earned critical acclaim in the title role of Sir Elton John's musical are moving on.

And these are the boys stepping into their ballet shoes.

Director Stephen Daldry has cast his net far wider than the North-East in his hunt for fresh talent. This year will see Billy played by boys from black and Asian backgrounds and from as far afield as America and Ireland. They will take turns on stage to meet child employment regulations.

Liam Mower, 13, is the last surviving lead from the original trio who opened in Billy Elliot The Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre last May.

Travis Hamilton Yates, 12, and Leon Cooke, 14, have both been playing the role since late last year. Joining them is Matthew Koon, 12, from Salford, who starts pirouetting next Wednesday. "I'm quite nervous but I'm also really excited," he said.

Layton Williams, 11, also from Manchester, will take to the stage in September.

American Colin Bates, 15, was discovered in New York in auditions for the US Billy Elliot but would have been too old by the time the show opened on Broadway. Will Colin have problems with the Geordie accent? "I'm a good mimic," he said.

Dean McCarthy, 14, from Dublin, is the fourth new Billy. …

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