Meet the Billys — US/Canadian Tour: Billy Elliot the Musical
The profiles contained in this article will be continually updated as new information and graphics become available. Check back often for new information.
Last Update: 20-May-2013
The US/CanadianTour of Billy Elliot the Musical (dubbed US National Tour 2) kicked off at the Durham (NC) Performing Arts Center (DPAC) on October 30, 2010. The tour features stops of a few days to 4 weeks (most stops are currently one week) in various cities around the United States and Canada. Originally planned to last for a minimum of three years, it is now in its third year. To date it has played 61 cities and the itinerary is booked with stops through August 18, 2013 (see a link to the full tour schedule at the end of this article).
A hiatus for the original tour took place from August 22 to Oct. 31, 2011 during which some changes to the script and set were made and several cast changes took place. The production then re-opened as US/Canadian Tour 2.5 on November 1, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. Tour 2.5 recently celebrated its 500th show.
As in all productions of the popular musical, a large part of the success of this version of the show depends on the boys in the title role. Their talent dominates the show, as they are on stage for all but a couple of scenes for the show's two hour and 50 minute duration.
This article contains profiles of the young actors who currently alternate in the role of Billy. They are Drew Minard, Noah Parets and Mitchell Tobin.
Note: Tour Billys Michael Dameski, Ethan Fuller, Daniel Russell, Lex Ishimoto, J.P. Viernes, Ty Forhan, Zach Manske, Kylend Hetherington and Ben Cook have left the show. Their profiles can now be found in the Meet the Billys - Profile Archives: Billy Elliot the Musical article. Original Tour Billy Giuseppe Bausilio's last show on the tour was May 21, 2011. Giuseppe moved to the Broadway cast of BETM where he performed the role an additional 39 times before retiring from the show. His profile can also be found at Meet the Billys - Profile Archives: Billy Elliot the Musical article.
Note: To see captions for the pictures in this article, just move your cursor over the picture.
Hailing from Clive, IA (a suburb of Des Moines), 12-year-0ld Drew Minard is the 12th boy to play the role of Billy on the US/Canadian tour and 68th actor in the world to play Billy on stage in BETM (see details here).
Like all the Billys, Drew comes from a dance background having begun at the age of three. Early in his training, he studied at the Iowa Ballet Academy in Urbandale, IA. For the past year, he has been coached by Ballet Des Moines artistic director Serkan Usta at the School of Classical Ballet and Dance in West Des Moines.
And like many other young dancers, Drew participated in many dance competitions and has won his share of awards along the way. He has won titles in various Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competitions and, in the spring of 2012, Drew competed as an 11-year-old in New York against dancers from more than 55 countries and was recognized as the best in his age division. He has also won the prestigious Hope Award at the YAPG. Says Usta "“I knew Drew would win something because he is a very talented and natural entertainer, but to win the Hope Award is an amazing achievement. We are all just delighted. Our community should be very proud of how well this young man represented his city.”
Drew is also a young man with a social conscience. After seeing the documentary film Bully, and having been bullied himself, Drew decided that the problem of bullying required kids to not just stand on the sidelines, but to take action. “There is no such thing as an innocent bystander,” he said, as he launched a student-led bullying prevention initiative at West Des Moines’ Crossroads Park Elementary School, which he was attending at the time. “I think the whole world needs to watch this (film), so they can see how bad it can really get.” Here's a short video he put together to illustrate the problem to his peers:
Former Broadway Billy Alex Ko and Drew are both natives of Iowa and, after Drew competed for and won a dance scholarship sponsored by the scholarship fund created in memory of Alex's dad (see Aspire Scholarship Program), Alex's mom Tammie suggested to Billy children's casting director Nora Brennan that Drew be invited to try out for the role of Billy. He was 10 when he traveled to New York City for that first BETM audition. At the tryout, though Drew danced and sang well, he was too short at just 4 feet 6 inches and was told to wait a while and try again. Two auditions were to follow and he grew another 4" by that third audition. As the saying goes, "the third time is a charm", and Drew was offered the role in the touring production of the show.
In October of 2012, Drew and his mom were off again to NYC, this time to begin several intensive weeks of training to prepare him to debut as Billy. There he trained with fellow new Billy Mitchell Tobin. The training consisted of acting, singing, dialect and dance as well as work with a cardio specialist who helps the Billys to build up the stamina they need to be able to perform for the nearly three hour duration of the show. After the core training in NYC, the boys joined the tour at the stop in Omaha, NE (Nov. 27-Dec. 2) to continue the training with the in-house resident director and cast before debuting in Austin, Texas (week of Dec. 11-16).
Earlier this year, Drew danced in a VIP Dance competition and finished first in his age group at the Des Moines regionals. Here's a video of his winning performance called "Fever":
Credit: Photo by Ben Cook
Noah Parets hails from Sharon, Massachusetts, where he lives with his mom and dad (Robyn and Joel) and 16-year-old brother Ethan. At 14-years-old (d.o.b = 3-May-1999), Noah completed his training and, with his debut in Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday, July 1, 2012, he became the youngest of the boys who were playing Billy in the US/CA Tour rotation of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) at the time of his debut.
On 19-Sep-2011, Noah had his first audition for the role of Billy in New York City. Like many of the boys who have played Billy in the US, that was followed by a period where nothing happened -- silence from the BETM creative team. Then in January of 2012, Noah was asked to attend a call-back audition -- a second look -- and it was then that he and his family began to realize that he was on a short list of boys under serious consideration for the role. He soon after found out that he would, indeed, be Billy on the US/Canadian tour.
For several months, Noah prepared for the dream role of his young life. During his preparations, he spent time travelling with the tour, becoming familiar with the production's rhythms and with its cast and crew, while also working on his dancing and stamina with the current Billys. His training was intensified in May and June of 2012 when he spent five weeks in New York City working with creative staff there who have a long association with BETM.
Prior to his involvement with BETM, Noah got his dance training beginning at the age of seven at Heidi Miller's School of Dance in Walpole, Massachusetts. Originally, he enrolled in tap and jazz classes, but his teacher there encouraged him to also take ballet. He wasn't thrilled about the ballet at first, but came to fall in love with it as time went on. Later he moved on to classes at The Gold School in Brockton, MA. While there, he garnered several accolades for his dancing, including being named the 2011 Junior Male Dancer of the Year. Here's his winning performance:
Credit: Video by TheGOLDSchool
Parents of the boys who become Billy in the show play a major role in their success. Beyond the nurturing and support of any parent for their children while they're growing up, for children who dance or do theatre, parents support the child by taking them back and forth to dance/performing arts classes, rehearsals and shows. But once they become part of the North American productions of the show (Broadway, Chicago, Toronto and the US/CA Tour) a guardian, most often a parent, must live with the Billy at the location of the show or, in the case of the tour, must travel with him. In Noah's case, that task has fallen to his mom, Robyn, who has decided to document the journey with a blog called Away From OM: Tales from the Road. While perusing that blog, one may note that there's a section called "Noah's Posts". It is very common for the boys who play Billy to have a variety of talents besides dancing and performing. For example, many play instruments (the piano being the most popular). One of Noah's other talents is obviously writing, as can be seen by reading his first (and to date, only) post on that site called "Choices".
After debuting as Billy, Noah was expected to do his share, along with the rest of the cast, of promoting the show as it traveled from city to city. When the production reached his "stomping grounds" in Boston, Noah and Rich Hebert (who plays "Dad" in the show) were asked to sing the National Anthem before 37,000 people at a Red Sox game played at the famed Fenway Park on August 8, 2012. Not a bad gig for two Massachusetts boys.
As Noah prepared to leave his "normal" life and begin his Billy journey, he spent part of his last day of 7th grade at his school, the Sharon Middle School, doing what he loves best -- dancing. In this video clip, here's Noah performing an improv contemporary dance number in the school's talent show on that day:
Credit: Video by noahdancer
One of the responsibilities of the Billys is to visit with various media outlets to promote the show, in each city where the tour plays. Here's Noah, being interviewed on the Shaw TV morning show called Go Calgary! :
Credit: Video compliments of Shaw TV Calgary
To learn more about Noah Parets, visit:
The state of Florida has produced its third Billy Elliot (the others being Tommy Batchelor and Ethan Fuller). Thirteen-year-old Mitchell Tobin from Boca Raton debuted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 in Austin, Texas. He is the lucky 13th boy to play Billy on tour and the 69th in the world to do so.
At the age of three, Mitchell was first exposed to dance when he accompanied his mom to take his older sister to her dance classes. He thought it looked like fun and enrolled in his own classes and by the age of four he had begun participating in dance competitions. A year later, he was dancing solos.
At the age of nine, Mitchell saw the Broadway production of BETM and it was love at first sight. He says, “I was speechless. I knew I had to get this role. It was my dream to do it”. So he attended an open call to audition for the show in Orlando. It was there that BETM children’s Casting Director Nora Brennan first saw him. While at that age he was too small for the role, Mitchell’s mom, Valerie, relates “She (Brennan) saw something in him and would call me every year and would have me bring him back for a follow-up.” When he was finally big enough to fit the part, the auditioning began in earnest. It took a total of four auditions, but Mitchell finally was cast as a Billy for the North American tour.
The tour director, Steven Minning, is based in New York and is responsible for the training of new cast. He explained that each boy who is chosen to Be Billy is encouraged to bring his own personality to the role. Says Minning, “We cast Mitchell because he’s Mitchell. He has an impish quality; he’s very smart, he’s always thinking ahead. And there was just something quite charismatic about Mitchell. His zest for life really jumps out. That’s who his Billy is”.
So having achieved his goal of Being Billy, Mitchell began the intensive training to learn the role. He and his mom went to New York in October of 2012 for that training. “We had about five weeks to learn the part,” Mitchell explained. “It was very stressful because we had to learn the role in such a fast period of time, but it was fun at the same time.” His days during that training period averaged 12 hours -- six days per week. Included was dance (tap, ballet, modern dance and hip-hop), acrobatics, singing, acting and three hours of academic tutoring each day.
Having completed his NYC training, in November 2012, Mitchell traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to finalize his training while working with the tour cast and creative team. This culminated in technical rehearsals and then the final step the week before his debut -- his “put-in” rehearsal -- where he basically did the show with full cast and music – just without an audience.
When he hasn't been away from home preparing to be Billy and traveling around North America with the Tour, Mitchell attends the Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. If that school sounds familiar, it may be because you recognize it as the school a former Billy (on Broadway and in Chicago) attended -- Tommy Batchelor. In addition, Mitch has received instruction in dance and acrobatics from Performance Edge 2 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and has competed for that studio in many dance competitions, winning several awards; among them was Junior Mr. Showbiz in 2011 in the Showbiz National Talent competition.
To give Skykid readers an idea of Mitchell's dance abilities, here's some video footage of him dancing in 2012. The first is in a contemporary piece:
The second number demonstrates his expertise in tap:
Among their other responsibilities, each of the Billys rotates helping to promote the show by visiting local media outlets in association with the opening of the show in each new city where BETM plays. When the show visited Mitchell's home territory in southern Florida, of course it was natural for Mitchell to do interviews with his hometown press. Here he and Rich Hebert ("Dad") are interviewed by West Palm Beach's WPTV TV/NewsChannel 5:
Mitchell is among the youngest and is definitely the smallest boy to play Billy in North America. But big talent comes in this small package and he has been thrilling audiences around the US and Canada with his portrayal of the boy who just wants to dance, since his debut last December.
Credit: Photo by Amy Boyle
To learn more about Mitchell, visit:
The Billy Jump
Note: Production photos not previously credited are by Kyle Froman and Glenn Cook.
In Houston, on March 12, 2011, former president George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush viewed the show and visited with the cast backstage afterward.
Credit: Photo by Billy Elliot Broadway and National Tour Facebook Group
During the week before the Tour opened for what would be the longest stay of any stop on the itinerary (8 weeks) in San Francisco, the five Billys spent the week promoting the show.
Credit: Two Photos Above by SHN: Broadway in San Francisco
Here the Billys show off their singing voices with their excellent rendition of the National Anthem at a San Francisco Giants game on the Friday night before the show opened in SF:
Credit: Video by Major League Baseball
In July of 2012, Tour Billys (Noah Parets and Ben Cook), ably assisted by Cameron Clifford and five of the Ballet Girls, sing the National Anthem at a Milwaukee Brewers/St. Louis Cardinals game at Miller Park Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Credit: Photo by the Marcus Performing Arts Center
In other articles in the Billy Elliot the Musical section of this site, see profiles of the boys playing Billy in the UK in Meet the Billys — London: Billy Elliot the Musical. There are also profiles of Billys of the recent past, who have left the show since September, 2009, in Meet the Billys — Profiles Archive: Billy Elliot the Musical.
Note: If you have found these profiles enjoyable to read and/or useful, your comments (below) would be very appreciated.
Next Venue - US/CA National Tour
The Mainstage at Proctors
Schenectady, New York
June 4-9, 2013
For the complete US National Tour schedule visit:
Last updated byat .