Meet the Billys – Profile Archives: Billy Elliot the Musical
Profiles on this page are of Billys who left the show on or after September 1, 2009 and whose last shows were at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London. Profiles are listed in the order each Billy “retired” from the show — with the most recent listed last.
Note: For profiles of the current Billys in the West End production of the show, see the article Meet the Billys – London: Billy Elliot the Musical.
Note: Tanner’s Final Performance as Billy in London was September 26, 2009 Debut: September 29, 2008 (London)
Tanner hails from Norfolk, Nebraska and has had the distinction of playing the role both in London and on Broadway (one of just two boys to do so).
Tanner began dancing at seven years old, studying a variety of dance styles ranging from tap to lyrical. Very soon, his dancing talent began to flourish. In the 2006/07 dance season, he was the West Coast Dance Elite Junior Champion and, at 12 years old, placed first in the Modern dance category at the Youth America Grand Prix competition (to see a video of that performance go to Tanner’s fan website – link at the end of this profile).
One of 15 boys (out of over 1500 auditioned) brought to NYC for the semi-finals in the audition process to determine who would play Billy on Broadway, Tanner was ultimately asked to star as Billy in London. His first performance on the West End was September 29, 2008.
Just before he made his debut, Tanner was interviewed with another new Billy, Tom Holland, who had done just four performances himself. Here’s a video of that interview, including a demo of the tough Geordi accent that all the cast has to master for the show:
In the Spring of 2009, Tanner was asked to fill in for one of the Broadway Billys who had to have minor surgery and thus would not be able to perform for a while. Tanner’s first performance on Broadway was May 16, 2009 and his last was June 6, 2009. After a short break at home in Nebraska, he rejoined the West End cast, ultimately performing the role for the last time in London on September 26, 2009.
There is a surprisingly significant number of Billy Elliot the Musical stalwarts who have seen the show many times (in some cases in all three locations where it has played – London, Australia and New York), and who rank Tanner as one of their top three Billys of all time. That’s high praise indeed when one considers the many extraordinary boys who have played the role.
In June, Tanner did an interview for the Sioux City Journal newspaper in Nebraska. When asked what his plans were when his run at Billy Elliot was over, he replied “I’ll go home and be a regular kid again. I don’t know what I want to do in the future, but I’d like to at least try to keep dancing in my life.” To see more pictures of Tanner’s final performance, go to his fan site — link below.
For more information on Tanner Pflueger visit these websites:
Note: Brad’s final performance as Billy in London was October 31, 2009 Debut: December 1, 2008 (London)
From Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, Bradley is currently 13 years old. He began dancing at the age of nine at a couple of local dance schools, where he studied a variety of dance styles including ballet, tap, modern and contemporary.
He had been dancing for just a year when he was talent-spotted by the Billy Elliot youth casting people at a dancing show. Several auditions in London followed before he began training four nights a week in Leeds, where he was in the intense “Billy school” training program for two years preparing for the role.
Brad debuted on the West End on December 1, 2008. He was 12 years old. At the time, much was made of the fact that Brad was the 19th boy to play the role on the West End and the 30th to do so world-wide. Now, one would think that sort of loses him among the masses, so to speak. But as have all the boys who have played Billy, Brad has managed to put his unique mark on the role. He has earned much praise from the thousands who have seen him perform at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre over the past nine months for his graceful dancing and sensitive interpretation of the character.
In a video that is part of the “We Are Billy Elliot” series produced by of Billy Elliot the Musical – London, Brad talks about the role and what it takes to be a Billy on the West End:
Brad recently announced his last show will be October 31, 2009 after 10 months playing Billy Elliot.
Because of the intense theater/dance training program and the experience of headlining a hugely successful West End musical, like all Billys when they leave the show, one can expect a bright future in entertainment for Brad Wilson, should he chose to pursue such a path. In the meantime, god-speed to Brad as he returns to being a regular teen after his almost three year trek of preparation for and then portrayal of Billy Elliot.
Note: Despite having an official “last show” on October 31st, Brad appeared in several additional shows as Billy on the VPT stage, during the holiday season of 2009.
For more information on Brad Wilson visit these websites:
Note: Fox’s final performance as Billy in the West End was March 27, 2010 Debut: June 23, 2008 (London)
At 14 years old, Fox Jackson-Keen was the senior Billy on the London stage when he performed the role for the last time. He had been in the role for 20 months and had performed as Billy 201 times, since making his debut on June 23, 2008. He was the 16th actor to play the role at the Victoria Palace Theatre but the first actually from London (his West End predecessors all coming from other parts of the British Isles or the United States). Fox is from Hornsey, in the north of London.
His unusal first name stems from the fact that his parents were huge X-Files fans when he was born on May 14, 1995. Gymastics was an early love and he has competed at the national level in several championship competitions in that sport. Fox has also appeared as an actor on TV and in both TV and print advertisements. Fox’s acting credits include a role in the 2006 British TV adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novel “Hogfather”. Here’s a short video clip of his performance in that show:
But like all the boys who play Billy, it’s his love of dancing that is closest to his heart. At the age of nine, he started break-dancing and soon after expanded to tap and ballet. When he first tried out for Billy Elliot the Musical, while his dance and gymnastic skills were appreciated by the casting people, they told him he was too small and to reapply in a few years. Two years later, he did just that. And this time, he was accepted into the “Billy school” where he spent a year in training and rehearsals before making his debut. In an interview from the “We Are Billy Elliot” series of videos on the London show’s official website, Fox gives some insights into how he got the role and what it’s like for him to play Billy:
What is probably unknown to the average theater-goer is that, when you see a performance of Billy Elliot the Musical, it can be a very different experience from what the group of people sitting in those same seats saw in the performance offered the day before. That’s because while the core of show is the same for every performance, the show is somewhat customized for each boy who plays Billy, based on his vocal range and strengths as a dancer.
That Fox’s strengths are street dancing and gymnastics is apparent in his version of the musical’s signature song, “Electricity”, shown in this video:
Fox’s last performance as Billy was on March 27, 2010 at the 7:30pm show. It’s a pretty safe bet that when he left the Victoria Palace Theatre stage for the last time on that night, it surely won’t be the last we hear of this talented young performer.
For more information on Fox Jackson-Keen visit these websites:
Note: Tom’s final performance as Billy in the West End was May 29, 2010 Debut: September 8, 2008 (London)
Tom Holland’s last performance as Billy, in the London production of Billy Elliot the Musical, took place on Saturday, May 29, 2010, just a couple of days shy of his 14th birthday and after 21 months in the role.
Tom, who retired as the senior Billy on the London stage, was born on June 1, 1996 and is from Kingston, England. He started dancing at a hip hop class on Saturday afternoons at a studio called Nifty Feet in Wimbledon, England. He was spotted at age 10, at a dance show in Richmond, by Billy Elliot talent scouts who constantly scour the countryside looking for potential Billys. They invited him to audition for the musical.
Up to that point, Tom’s emphasis had been on street dance and acrobatics. While those conducting the auditions loved how accomplished he was in those skills and for his outgoing personality and stage presence, they suggested that he take ballet lessons in order to be a viable candidate for the role of Billy.
Eight auditions and two years later he was finally offered a role in the show. But he took an unusual path to finally attain his goal of being Billy Elliot. On June 28, 2008, Tom made his West End debut – not as Billy, but as Billy’s best friend Michael. It wasn’t until September 8, 2008 that Tom finally debuted as Billy Eliott.
In a series of videos on the official Billy Elliot the Musical London website, various cast and crew members are introduced to the public. In one, Tom talks about what’s it’s like to play Billy:
Credit: Video by WestEndTheatre
He was considered a “street/acro” Billy because most of his choreography in the show demonstrated that style of dance. Tom was known for his agility and his gravity defying acrobatic flips, including a “no hands” forward flip and his signature backward flip while walking up a wall which ended the show’s signature dance number called “Electricity”. That maneuver never failed to elicit gasps from appreciative audiences at the show.
Early on in his stint as Billy, with all of four shows as Billy under his belt, Tom did his first interview on a local British TV news program, along with another soon-to-be Billy, Tanner Pflueger. A highlight of that interview was when Tom and Tanner, asked by the reporter what their Geordi accents sound like, demonstrated by singing in turn, acapella, the opening words of the musical’s signature song “Electricity”.
Credit: Video by sleepylins
Tom did many interviews and TV appearances in the almost two years he was in the show, including with Tanner and Layton Williams on rel=”nofollow”>The Feel Good Factor and this appearance on March 11, 2010 with Fox Jackson Keen and Dean Charles Chapman on ITV’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show:
Credit: Video by MrWestendboy
To know Tom is to know his bubbly personality and his great sense of humor. One newspaper reporter found that out first hand when, during an interview, she asked Tom where his talent comes from. His reply: “My mum and dad joke about who I take after. I’ve seen them both dance and I have to say, there must have been a mix up at the hospital.” All agree there was no mix up when the creative team of Billy Elliot the Musical decided that Tom Holland should be one of their Billys.
There’s no doubt that, with his talent, Tom will have a stellar career in the performing arts, should he decide to pursue such a life’s work.
For more information on Tom Holland visit these websites:
Note: Ollie’s final performance as Billy in London was September 25, 2010 Debut: May 12, 2009 (London)
Born on April 6, 1997, Oliver Gardner is affectionately known to family, friends and fans as Ollie. At the time of his departure from the show, he was the senior Billy in the London production.
Like nearly all the boys who have played the role, the Saltford (near Bath, England) lad started dance at an early age. From the age of five, Ollie began accompanying his sister to her dance classes at the Dorothy Coleborn School of Dancing, in Bath, because his mother was a piano accompanist there.
His first dance teacher, Annette Hind, who is the owner of the school, recalls: “Ollie would come and watch his sister’s dance classes because his mum was playing the piano and he would hide behind the piano because he was shy. I thought that because his sister was so good and because he came from such a musical family, that he must be good too. Eventually we persuaded him to join and it became clear very, very quickly, that he was going to be a star.” Ollie learned ballet, tap and modern dance at the school and in five years, at the age of nine, he became a Junior Associate at the Royal Ballet School and then, later, a Mid Associate there.
He auditioned for Billy Elliot in April of 2008, was offered the role, and completed the rigorous “Billy School” in record time for someone of his young age. The average training time for the role is 18 months.
Ollie’s debut as Billy, on May 12, 2009, was anything but ordinary. On his opening night, the show celebrated its fourth birthday and 1,700th show at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London. His family, friends and teachers were all in the sold out house to see him finally dance the part that he had been dreaming about for years.
When interviewed after the performance he said: “When I came off the stage I felt relieved. I was glad that finally all the training had paid off and that I had finally done it. I’m just really happy. I have always wanted to be Billy. Before I went on I was a bit nervous, but more excited.”
In this video from the show’s “We Are Billy Elliot” series, Ollie talks about what it’s like to play Billy:
On March 13, 2010 Ollie, Jake Pratt (who plays Michael, Billy’s best friend in the show), and the Ballet Girls performed on the BBC’s Let’s Dance for Sports Relief Show. They did a customized act that included parts of “Express Yourself” and “The Finale”:
Credit: Video by MrWestendboy
Just before the show’s 5th anniversary celebration, on March 29, 2010, Ollie appeared with Ann Emery (who plays his grandma in the show) on the BBC Breakfast program:
Credit: Video by BillyElliotStuff
You can see from those last few videos that this personable young man, this dynamo on stage, has gotten over his initial shyness.
Ollie performed his last show as Billy on September 25, 2010, after over 16 months in the role. Members of the Ollie Gardner Appreciation Society and Billy Elliot the Forum were at the show in force and presented Ollie with parting mementoes of his time as Billy, including cards and a book with photos and personal messages from many of his fans, both those present and those who couldn’t be.
With his incredible talent, there’s no doubt we’ll be hearing more from this young man in the days ahead.
Says Ollie’s first dance teacher, Annette Hind, “He was destined to play that part. That was what he said he always wanted to do. When he was having his ballet lessons it was always his goal to dance professionally. I can’t tell you how proud I am. It almost brings tears to my eyes because I know he is going to have such a fantastic career.”
Credit: Photo by Yui Mok
For more information about Ollie Gardner visit the following websites:
Note: Aaron’s Final Performance as Billy in London was February 19, 2011 Debut: June 10, 2010 (London)
Twelve-year-old Aaron Watson became the 23rd boy to play the role of Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical on stage in London’s West End, when he debuted at the evening performance on Thursday, June 10, 2010.
His family includes mum Karen, dad Nick, older siblings Lisa and Shaun and a menagerie of five pets (including a dog, two cats and two guinea pigs).
Though he didn’t know it at the time, Aaron, who is from King’s Lynn (a town in Norfolk, England), began training to be Billy when he was five years old, enrolling in a gymnastics class.Two years later he added dance to that training, as he began taking classes at Footlights Dance Centre in King’s Lynn and, later, at the Bourne to Dance Academy of Dancing, in Bourne, England. His dance curriculum began with ballet and tap, and went on to include modern and contemporary. He also received drama training from the latter school.
At the age of nine, Aaron began auditioning for the role of Billy and gradually progressed through several callbacks. In November of 2007, he appeared with 13 past and present Billys at the 60th anniversary of BAFTA.
In this video of that performance, he can be seen toward the end – the smallest boy of the group who joins the boys tapping at the front of the stage and then ends up on James Lomas’s shoulders:
Credit: Video by karloz82
At the time of the BAFTA appearance, Aaron was enrolled in BETM London’s “Billy School”, which the show maintains in Leeds, England for boys who have been identified as potential Billys.
In 2009, Aaron took part in the popular British TV show “Britain’s Got Talent”. In this brief video clip, he is seen talking with the show’s Simon Cowell and then is viewed doing part of his performance:
Credit: Video by MrMerlin101
Since October, 2009, Aaron began living in the “Billy House” in London where the Billys, Michaels and Billys-to-be live together. He trained with the show’s creative staff there full time, preparing for his debut. The training was intense, with tutoring from 9am to 12:30pm five days a week and then training at the theatre or dance studios from 2pm to 8pm, Monday through Friday. And on Saturdays, except for no tutoring, it’s more of the same from 10am to 5pm.
Aaron talked about what it was like being away from home for any length of time for the first time in his life, “When I first went away it was really hard, but when you’ve been away for a while you start to get used to it. I’ve started to get more independent. It was really weird coming back (home) for the first time in a while. It was weird being back to a quiet place again.”
Aaron helped 19 past, present and future Billys celebrate the show’s 5th anniversary at the Victoria Palace Theatre (VPT) on March 31, 2010. In this photo, in which can be seen the future of the Billy rotation at the VPT, Aaron is seen with Billy-to-be Scott McKenzie (far right), as well as the last two Billys to take to the London stage before Aaron – Dean-Charles Chapman and Rhys Yeomans, all 12-years-old:
There’s no question that dancing is at the center of his young life. Aaron has said that after his days as Billy Elliot are over, he’d like to perform someday with the Royal Ballet and eventually become a choreographer doing shows in the West End. But for the time being, he said he was very happy to be appearing IN a megahit show in the West End.
Credit: Photo by Alistair Muir
In an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Wisbech Standard, it was revealed that Aaron had a heart defect when he was born. Says his mum, Karen, ““It was awful – I definitely didn’t think he could do something like this. I wanted to wrap him in cotton wool. He just kept going for regular check-ups and I was told to treat him as normal.” Karen said he wanted to do something to show other children what could be done after suffering a handicap like that. So Aaron is donating his first paycheck to the Great Ormond Street Hospital where he was born and where his defect was successfully treated.
As to his debut, Aaron commented, “It was amazing doing the first performance”, he said. “I was really nervous before I went on, but when I got into it, it was so fun. The nerves all went and I got on with it. When everybody is clapping at the end it’s a really good feeling, because you feel like you have achieved something at the end.” Karen added, “It was very surreal seeing him on the stage. You know that’s your son up there but you still can’t take it in. He was not Aaron, he was being Billy. He spoke in a Geordie accent. On his first night he got three standing ovations – I just thought ‘Wow – that’s my son’.”
On September 1, 2010, Aaron and Connor Kelly (Michael) appeared on Britain TV’s Michael Ball Show. Here’s some video of that appearance:
Credit: Video by qsaco1
Aaron’s dream of becoming Billy had come true and he went on to wow not only his mum, but London theatre audiences for 70.5 performances in the title role. But every journey in life eventually come to an end at some point, and Aaron’s journey as Billy came to an end with his final performance on the Victoria Palace stage on Saturday evening, February 19, 2011. His family, friends and many of his fans were present to cheer him on and wish him well in what is sure to be a successful future in whatever endeavors he chooses to pursue.
Photo Credits: The photos to the right and below compliments of the Aaron Watson – Billy Elliot Appreciation Society. See link below.
For More Information on Aaron Watson visit:
Note: Rhy’s Final Performance as Billy in London was April 9, 2011 Debut: March 26, 2010 (London)
When he debuted on March 26, 2010, Rhys Yeomans (D.O.B. 2/23/1998) became the 22nd West End Billy and the 39th boy, world-wide, to play the role. Thirteen-year-old Rhys is from Chadderton, a town in Oldham, Lancashire, England. When he stepped on the stage of the Victoria Palace Theatre that first time, he was the youngest boy to play the title role in London. It was the culmination of 23 months of training for the part.
Rhys began dance classes at the age of nine, though his mom Joanne says Rhys displayed a desire to perform from a very early age. “He has been dancing and singing since he was two,” she said. “He’s never been into football, although he likes it, so I thought we should channel his passion into something he loves doing.”
In early 2007, the channelling of his energy toward performing was sated by his joining the StageCoach Theatre Arts program, at New Bridge School, Oldham. The Stagecoach curriculum centers on the three main disciplines of the performing arts: Drama, Dance and Singing. The program’s faculty features experienced teachers with professional backgrounds as performers, choreographers, directors and musicians. Rhys took classes there every Saturday.
When he initially auditioned for Billy Elliot, he was praised for his singing abilities, but was told to improve his dancing. So Rhys enrolled at the Centrepointe Dance School in Denton, Manchester where he immediately began to improve. If Centrepointe sounds familiar to some readers, that may be because another student from that school had a very successful career at VPT himself, former Billy Matthew Koon. Centrepointe was founded by Caroline Wright, who is a Royal Ballet School graduate and whom Rhys gives high praise for developing his dance skills.
In May of 2008 he tried out again for BETM. This time he was asked to join the “Billy School” which BETM runs in Leeds and where potential Billys are involved for up to two years in the intense training that it takes to be Billy. In September, 2009, Rhys learned that he would definitely be playing Billy in the West End. He then spent the next six months preparing for his debut.
In an interview with the London Times, Rhys was asked what his favorite part of the show was. “My favourite scene is when Billy goes to his big audition,” he says excitedly. “It all goes a bit wrong and he ends up punching another boy. I like it because the audience think he hasn’t got the part, but he has. You get loads of laughs but you also get to see Billy really dancing.” In that scene, Billy is asked what it feels like when he dances. His response is his biggest number in the show called “Electricity” in which Billy impresses the audition judges with his talent and during which he electrifies the audience in the show.
Credit: Photo by Alastair Muir
In December of 2009, the City of Durham, England staked its claim to lead the country in culture and the arts, by submitting its bid to be the first UK City of Culture. The bid was sent on its way by a troupe of Durham schoolboys and Rhys Yeomans, star of Billy Elliot, the smash-hit West End musical set in County Durham.
On June 19, 2010, Rhys, Jake Pratt (Michael) and the Ballet Girls performed a specially choreographed combination version of two of the show’s biggest numbers, Expressing Yourself and the Finale, at the annual West End Live event in London.
This video captures their performance at West End Live (>40s) :
Credit: Video by Sam4God
In his official BETM bio, Rhys says, “I have enjoyed every moment of my Billy Elliot training in London and I am really excited about my first performance on stage in front of a live audience! When he finally did debut, all reports were that he got his career off to a fine start with a flawless first performance. And, as he grew into the role, a couple of times a week he got the chance to channel his excitement into two hours and 50 minutes of doing what his mom says he likes to do best – performing.
Rhys played Billy for the last time on Saturday, April 9, 2011.
For more information on Rhys Yeomans visit:
Note: Scott’s Final Performance as Billy in London was September 3, 2011 Debut: September 6, 2010 (London)
Scott McKenzie, who only began dancing at the age of eight, debuted on Monday, September 6, 2010. The former student of the Knoxland Primary School in Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire, Scotland was the 24th boy to play the role on the Victoria Palace Theatre stage in London’s West End. He was also just the second Scottish Billy (Sam Angell having been the first).
Scott’s audition process began when he impressed judges at a tryout in Newcastle in February of 2009. At that tryout, he was selected from over 400 boys for an individual dance lesson with the show’s London choreographer. A film of that lesson was then sent to the resident director of Billy Elliot. He was then invited to London at the beginning of May, 2009 for a further audition. From there Scott took part in a seven-week summer school in London to further hone his dancing and acting skills. Before that, Scott had never even been to London. After learning he got the part in March of 2010, he moved into the Billy House in London for the duration of his year as Billy.
Mum Jane said: “When he realised he had got through the audition, he was jumping up and down with excitement. It’s a big thing for him. He loves dancing and his dream has always been to dance in the West End.”
That dream began early in Scott’s life. At the age of five, Scott joined UK Theatre School in Glasgow’s West Regent Street. He later began his dance training by taking ballet, modern and tap classes at the Jan Sutherland School of Dance in Alexandria. He also worked with acclaimed dancer David Hughes from Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre every Sunday, and for a period of time had classes three nights a week with two dancers from Scottish Ballet.
When he began performing as Billy, Scott was no stranger to the stage having appeared as Oliver in the Apollo Players’ production at the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow in November of 2008. He has also appeared on TV on The Karen Dunbar Show and got down to the final 300 from over 7000 boys for BBC1’s Oliver search I’d Do Anything.
On March 31, 2010, Scott helped BETM celebrate five years on the Victoria Palace Stage, dancing in a special Finale to the show that evening that also featured 18 other past, present and Scott and Aaron Watson who were “Billys- to- be”. Aaron subsequently debuted on June 10, 2010 as the 23rd Billy in London, and Scott later joined him as the 24th boy to play the role.
At the time, his mum said about Scott finally realizing his dreams and portraying Billy a couple of times a week at the Victoria Palace Theatre, “We have had mixed emotions – we’re delighted for him as it’s what he wants to do – but we really miss him when he’s there.” She went on to say, “We always knew he’d be away from home – but I never thought it would be at 13″. But Scott is loving every minute of the experience. He only gets to visit home a couple of times a month, but when asked if he gets homesick he said, ““You’ve got too much to think about to be homesick.”
Fast forward a year later. On September 3, 2011, Scott played Billy for the 92.5 and final time. At this point in his life, Scott’s ambition is much like the boy he played in the show — Billy Elliot. Like Billy, Scott aspires to go to the Royal Ballet School. And like Billy, he has the talent and the perseverance to make it. But for now, he’s just very happy that he had the unique opportunity to be Billy Elliot as he goes home and to a new school. There’s no doubt that the dance world hasn’t heard the last of this wee lad from Scotland.
Credit: Photo by Alastair Muir
There’s an old Scottish saying, ” Byde weill, betyde weill” which, translated, means “Everything comes to him who waits.” Scott’s long journey to first become Billy and then play the role for a year is now over and, as another Scottish saying goes “He’s weill warth sorrow that coffs it wi his ain siller” Translation: “He deserves all that is coming to him”. May what’s “now coming to him” be a long and very successful career in dance or whatever he chooses to do with the rest of his life.
For more information about Scott McKenzie visit this site:
Note: Dean’s Final Performance as Billy in London was November 12, 2011 Debut: November 30, 2009 (London)
The senior Billy when he did his last show in London, Dean-Charles Chapman (D.O.B. = 7-Sep-1997) took an unusual path to the title role in that he has played three different roles in the London production — the first actor to do so in any location anywhere Billy Elliot the Musical has played. His love of theater and dance, and his determination to someday play Billy, have finally been rewarded. But his journey to BE Billy started back before the show itself debuted at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Dean’s trek to the top of the cast board in the lobby of London’s Victoria Palace Theatre began in late 2004. At seven years old, he entered into rehearsals with the original cast of the show, and then played the role of Small Boy from March, 2005 to June, 2006. His idols back then were named James Lomas, George Maguire and Liam Mower — who were originating the role of Billy for the first time anywhere. Those first Billys obviously made quite an impression on the young Dean. At the Stage Door, the night of his last performance as Small Boy, he promised fans that he’d be back. And back he would be.
After leaving the show in the summer of 2006, Dean studied both Drama and Dance at Colin’s Performing Arts School in his hometown of Essex, England. Then, after a two and half year absence, Dean returned to the cast of BETM – West End as Billy’s best friend, Michael, on December 3, 2008. The creative team liked what they saw in Dean’s acting and dance ability as Michael. So, after five months playing Michael, Dean left the show again in May of 2009 to devote himself to the training and rehearsals it would take to become Billy.
The culmination of all his hard work came when he debuted in the lead role on November 30, 2009. In a statement given in the days before his debut, Dean said “I am really excited about my first performance! I am going to dedicate my first performance as Billy to all those who have helped me along the way and Colin’s Performing Arts School where I studied…” Since his debut, Dean has drawn raves from theater goers for his self confident demeanor and his stage presence. Many especially like the fact that he is a “ballet Billy”, something they haven’t seen a lot of lately at the Victoria Palace Theatre. The phrase, “ballet Billy”, means ballet is the primary dance genre he displays in such big show numbers as “Electricity”.
On May 11, 2010, Dean, Jake Pratt (Michael) and a contingent of ballet girls performed a specially choreographed combination of the show’s Finale and Expressing Yourself on Britain’s ITV1 program “This Morning”.
Credit: Video by MrWestendboy
In May of 2011, the BETM company released a new promotional video which features Dean as Billy. It will be used to promote the show in the markets where BETM is being staged.
Credit: Video by the Billy Elliot the Musical Company
On November 12, 2011, Dean played the role for the 188.5 and final time. In the audience were family, friends and fans, including former Billys Ollie Gardner, Aaron Watson and Scott McKenzie, all of whom came to wish their friend the best as he moves on to his next adventure in the entertainment world.
It’s been a long trek, for sure, since those days when he was part of the original cast of the show, when that small boy of seven sat on the shoulders of the cast member who played his dad. Dean’s unique contributions to the show may never be matched and his mark on the role of Billy has a lasting place in the history of the show.
For more information on Dean-Charles Chapman visit these websites:
Note: The source of some photos in the above profile is the Dean-Charles Chapman – Billy Elliot Appreciation Society (see their link above)
Note: Josh’s Final Performance as Billy in London was March 3, 2012 Debut: April 24, 2011 (London)
At twelve-years-old, Josh Baker from Rochester, southeast of London, became the 25th Billy on the London stage and the 54th overall in the world to play the role, when he debuted on February 24, 2011 at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Though it was his professional debut, he was very familiar with the role as he played Billy in the Stage Theatre Society’s production of Billy Elliot the Musical at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone in June of 2010. That production was done in conjunction with the popular Billy Youth Theatre program in Great Britain, in which a modified version of the show is made available to school and youth theatre groups for production.
In this video produced by the Stage Theatre Society, here’s a glimpse of Josh performing as Billy:
Credit: Video by emilypushthebutton
Josh began training in acting at age five and dance at the age of seven. Most of his training has been at the Italia Conti Associate School in Chislehurst, which provides Saturday part-time classes in Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz, Musical Production, Latin & Ballroom, Acting and Singing to young people aged from 3 to 18 years.
The BETM creatives obviously liked what they saw in Josh’s portrayal of the role in the Stage Theatre Society production, as they offered him a spot in the prestigious 2010 Billy Elliot camp, which is run during the summer hiatis from school at Leeds. The result of his involvement in that camp led to an intense period of training/rehearsing to play Billy before the footlights of the VPT.
BETM London participated in the annual “West End Live” program in June of 2011. Members of the ensemble and the ballet girls, led by Josh, danced the “Finale” at that event. Here’s video of the occasion:
Credit: Video by haseebkayani
In January of 2012 Josh, along with Ann Emery (Grandma) and Deka Walmsley (Dad) were interviewed on a popular British TV show. Here’s some footage of that interview:
In another interview, just prior to his debut, Josh was quoted as saying, “I love being part of such a great musical – the training has been very hard but also great fun, I can’t wait for all my friends from Stage Theatre School to come and see me performing in the West End.”
At the age of 13 and a little over a year since his debut, Josh performed the role of Billy for the 108.5 and final time on Saturday evening, March 3, 2012 at the 7:30pm performance at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
To View More Pictures of Josh in the 2010 Stage Theatre Society production of BETM, visit their website
On July 25, 2011, thirteen-year-old Adam Vesperman became the 60th boy world-wide to portray the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical, and the 27th to tread the boards on the Victoria Palace Theatre stage. And with that first show as Billy, the American actor who hails from Kent, Washington (near Seattle), made his professional debut. He thus continued a tradition of American boys being exported to London in the role. Past Billys from America have included Colin Bates, Hogan Fulton, Corey Snide, Tanner Pflueger and Trent Kowalik.
Like many of the boys who have played Billy, Adam started dancing at an early age — in his case, seven-years-old. His pre-Billy training was done at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy in Kent and included instruction in the following dance styles: ballet, tap, lyrical, jazz and hip hop. His training also encompassed proper stretch techniques and how to prevent dance related injuries.
And, like many of the other Billys, his pre-Billy days included winning many accolades in dance competitions, most recently in 2010 in the West Coast Dance Explosion Elite dancer program in Las Vegas. There, pitted against many other 9-11 year olds, he won the National Champion title, “Junior Male Dancer of the Year”. His winning solo ‘Dancing Shoes’, was an early look at the acrobatic and lyrical abilities Adam will be exhibiting as Billy. The number was choreographed by Tiffany Miles-Brooks.
Adam is also a member of the Allegro Precision Dance Company which is an elite group of dancers that train, rehearse, perform and compete year round. His group of five boys competed in that same Las Vegas competition in which he won his solo award. The group placed third with their number called ‘PURE Boyz’.
It was at that Las Vegas competition that Adam also auditioned for BETM. He was later called back for a second audition in New York City and was then selected to play the role of Billy on the West End.
In March of 2011, just before he left for London to prepare for his debut as Billy, Adam performed for the last time as 2010 National Junior Champion in his native Seattle at the Regional WCDE convention faculty show. The number is called My Vampire Heart:
Credit: Video by smurfette0669
For Adamto be in the London production of BETM, he was a long way from home. When asked about that he said, ““It’s so hard being 5,000 miles away from my family and friends for so long, but it’s worth it. Being Billy has changed my life so much – the training, experience, and best of all the wonderful people I get to work with. I miss my family a lot, but being in the show keeps us so busy that I don’t really think about it too much.”
In October of 2011, Seattle TV Channel 5′s Evening Magazine did a feature on Adam in which he talked about growing up in the Northwest, his training and getting used to life in London:
On February 18, 2012, Adam helped celebrate the 175th Birthday of the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, England, by performing at the the gala celebration.
And he’s also aware of the tradition, mentioned earlier, of Americans playing Billy on the London stage, “I am the sixth American Billy to star in the London production and I hope that I can maintain the high quality shown by my predecessors.”
His instructors at Allegro Performing Arts Academy, his family and friends, and now countless theatre-goers at the VPT all know he has what it takes to measure up to his American predecessors and the other 21 boys who have played the role of Billy on the London stage.
On August 18, 2012 — a year and three weeks after he debuted as Billy, Adam played the role for the 107th and final time. He is one of the lucky ones to have such success at such a young age. And now he returns to his home near Seattle to resume a more “normal” life. One thing is for sure, the entertainment world hasn’t heard the last of Adam Vesperman.
Photo Credits: Last two production photos by Alastair Muir
For more information on Adam Vesperman, visit:
Now 14-years-old (D.O.B. 20-Aug-1998), Ryan Collinson became the 26th boy to play Billy Elliot in London and the 55th Billy overall worldwide when he made his debut on the stage of the Victoria Palace Theatre in the West End on April 13, 2011. He’s from the Woodvale section of Southport, England, a city which is north of Liverpool on the country’s northwest coast bordering the Irish Sea.
Ryan, whose home school is Christ the King in Southport, comes from a free-style dance background. His talent was first recognized when, in June of 2009, he won the Junior section of the Search for a Star competition at Southport Fun Fest. After winning a regional contest in the Pontin’s Freestyle Dance competition in 2010, Ryan competed in Pontin’s National championships. Over 130 contestants were judged on choreography, style, presentation and performance in four age groups and Ryan placed first in the 11-14 age group.
The amazing thing is that unlike some of the boys who have become Billy, before he auditioned for BETM, he had no formal singing or acting training, but had taken two years of gymnastics classes and had taught himself how to street dance.
In an interview in Ryan’s hometown newspaper, The Southport Visiter, Ryan’s mum, Kayla Collinson, said Ryan’s interest in dance all started when her son received Billy Elliot on DVD one Christmas. As has been mentioned, Ryan had done very little classical dance training before auditioning for the role. But once he saw that video, he wanted to be just like Billy, so he started dance classes. He auditioned for the West End cast after just eight lessons. After several call backs, he was awarded the part.
Says his mum: “I’m really, really proud him – absolutely made up, he just loves dancing. While acknowledging that Ryan has taken a little ribbing from his mates about his interest in dance, Kayla says ““He’s definitely growing in confidence and his good friends are all really supportive. “
And Ryan adds, referring to the day he was told he would be Billy, “It was the best day of my life and now I am living my dream!”
The Cast Board on Ryan’s Opening Night: April 13, 2011
At the end of August, 2011, Ryan appeared on Britain’s QVC television program. On the show, he performed Electricity, was interviewed about the role of Billy, and then capped it off with a rousing performance, along with the Ballet Girls, of the Finale from BETM. Here’s a video clip from that show:
Credit: Video by tomchiting
Credit: Photo by Paul Fryer
On April 15, 2012, a pre-Olivier Awards event was held at Covent Gardens in London to showcase West End shows. At that event, Ryan represented BETM when he danced his street version of Electricity:
Credit: Video by Sam4God
Ryan performed his final show as Billy on September 1, 2012. It was his 135.5 performance in the role (includes 3 partial shows @ .5 each).
For More Information on Ryan Collinson visit:
Credit: Photo by Alistair Muir
On November 14, 2011, the then 12-year-old Kaine Ward (D.O.B = 24-Nov-1998) from Watford, Hertfordshire, England became the twenty-eighth boy to play Billy on the Victoria Palace Stage and the 61st to play the role worldwide in Billy Elliot the Musical. Kaine replaced long-time Billy Dean Charles Chapman in the London Billy rotation.
At the age of two, Kaine began training at The Village School of Dance and Drama with Caroline Simmonds where he performed in a number of plays and musicals, including Annie and Bugsy Malone. Most recently he’s studied at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.
He first saw BETM in November, 2010 and immediately knew he wanted to be Billy. His first audition for the show was in February of 2011. After five months of call backs, he was finally told he would play the title role. He said “I couldn’t believe it!”
When asked what his favorite part of the show was, Kaine replied “The finale, not because it’s over but because you get to have fun and be yourself in that bit.” And what does he tell people to encourage them to see the show? “’I tell people that Billy Elliot is a musical with so many different bits in it; it’s a musical where you don’t have to like musicals to enjoy it.”
The culmination of all his hard work resulted in his name at the top of the cast board (see photo at right) on Monday, November 14, 2011 and now people can see for themselves the result of all his hard work to become Billy.
So though Kaine finds it hard to believe that he’s Billy – it’s true, and London audiences get to see the incredible talents of this impressive ballet Billy.
In April of 2012, Kaine and other cast members of the show participated in an event to welcome the world to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was called “West End Theatre Welcomes the World”.
Below, Kaine poses with BETM Director Stephen Daldry, who was also the Creative Director of 2012 London Olympics ceremonies.
Credit: Photo by Charlotte Aiston
On February 16, 2013, Kaine performed as Billy for the 129th and final time (includes 6 partial shows @ .5 each).
For more information on Kaine Ward, visit:
Harris Beattie (D.O.B. 30-Sep-1998) hails from Bieldside, a suburb of Aberdeen, Scotland. His grandfather, who died before he was born, was the famous Scottish entertainer, Andy Stewart. With his debut on Wednesday evening, February 22, 2012, Harris became the 29th boy to play the title role on the London stage and was the 63rd Billy world-wide in Billy Elliot the Musical.
He started his ballet training at the age of seven. He currently takes dance instruction at Danscentre in Aberdeen, where he credits teacher Karen Berry with being very instrumental with his development as a dancer. Says Karen of her student “Harris is one of the most modest, unassuming and talented children that I have come across in all my years of teaching. He is an utter delight to work with and coupled with his excellent work ethic – I am sure that he will go very far. Harris is one of over 80 boys who now attend classes at Danscentre, Aberdeen. Dancing is the norm for boys in Aberdeen and it’s just fantastic to have the opportunity to work with so many talented young men.”
Harris, who is the youngest of four children, lost his beloved Mum in 2009, when he was 10. Since then, he has lived with his mother’s sister, who is his guardian, and his uncle. To them he is dedicating his first performance as Billy saying “I would like to dedicate my first performance to my Auntie Debbie and Uncle Keith, they have done so much for me, I can’t thank them enough.”
Harris was a winner in his age level of the Genée Dance Challenge 2010, which took place at Birmingham Royal Ballet from 26 – 31 July, 2010. Two winners were selected from each of the three levels (by age) and won the opportunity to perform at Supper with the Stars on the evening of the Saturday 20 November 2010. They also received two tickets to the Genée Final at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, on Sunday 21 November, 2010 inclusive of travel and one night’s accommodation.
Here’s a sample of Harris’s dance style which he demonstrated at a show in 2011:
Credit: Video by Brodie Marno Productions
In July of 2010, it was reported that Harris had earned a place at the Royal Ballet School. For the year long class, he traveled down to the capital to take instruction from the world’s finest teachers every weekend. At that time, Jim Fletcher of the Royal Ballet School, said: “The standards of admission at any level at the Royal Ballet School are extremely high and reflect the international standing of the school as one of the great centres of excellence in the world alongside the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg and the Paris Opera Ballet. The fact that Harris is one of six selected out of 69 for a place reflects that he is talented and demonstrates his potential.”
In this short video, Harris is seen practicing his ballet:
Credit: Video by EveningExpressVideos
It was first announced in the Fall of 2011 that Harris had won the role of Billy and was training at the Billy School to get ready to make his debut.
His debut would have made his grandpa and mother extremely proud that he’s carrying on the family tradition of entertaining. His aunt and uncle definitely are. Said his aunt Debbie “We are very proud of him. He works very hard and has been dancing since an early age.”
Harris performed as Billy for the 121st (includes six partial shows @.5 each) and final time on Saturday evening, June 8, 2013. There is no doubt the entertainment world hasn’t heard the last of this talented young man.
Credit: Photo by BillyElliotUK
For more information on Harris Beattie visit:
A Note on Article Navigation
This article is formatted by the location where each “retired” Billy had his last show. Each location is on a separate page: London (Page 2), Broadway (Page 3), Chicago/Toronto (Page 4), and US Tour (Page 5). So if your intent is to see all the Billys whose last shows were in a particular location, just navigate to the proper page by either clicking on the proper link (above) or by using the page navigation at the bottom of this page.
To find the profile of a particular “retired” Billy, go to Page 1 for an alphabetical listing.