So that was Christmas Day. I don’t know about everyone else, but mine was just what I had wanted it to be; a wonderful family day of good cheer, excellent company and lots of food and drink! I earned a million mummy points with my daughter for her gifts, and all in all, it was probably one of the best Christmas’ we’ve had.
I’m going to see a big West End musical in January for reviewing purposes, which has given both me and my daughter something to look forward to as it’s a show we haven’t yet had the chance to visit. Christmas monopolises your life for pretty much the whole of December – and more – so it’s nice to have something to set your sights on past that. There will be countless numbers of theatre fans who received tickets for shows in the West End over the holiday, but for those who didn’t, there is still lots going on in January to ignite the interest and excite.
For most of the performers currently on the stages of the West End theatres, their dreams of being there began in childhood. There are plenty who actually performed as children in the West End, which has played host to such shows as The Sound of Music, Les Miserables, The King and I, Annie and Oliver! over the years, all of which feature child actors in their casts. Today, the West End has the likes of Matilda, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, The Bodyguard and The Lion King to provide roles for the child stage stars…as well as Billy Elliot. The musical, adapted from the Oscar-nominated 2000 film starring a young Jamie Bell, opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2005 and is still a popular choice with theatre-goers, making it one of the strongest shows in town. Featuring music by Elton John and book/lyrics by Lee Hall, it is the proud owner of 4 Olivier Awards (including Best New Musical) and has spawned several subsequent international productions, including the award-winning Broadway production which won 10 Tony Awards.
Billy Elliot is the story of one boy’s dream to realise his ambitions against the odds. It is set in the North East of England during the mid Eighties; the time of the miner’s strike. The story centres on young Billy Elliot, who trades his boxing gloves for ballet shoes as he dreams of becoming a dancer, against the disapproval of his family. The hit musical appeals to a wide-ranging audience, but it recently provided children with another reason to get excited. Throughout January 2014, open auditions will be held throughout the UK to find young boys and girls to join the children’s cast of the West End production.
The musical has three main children’s roles, including of course the title role of Billy, the miner’s son with a secret passion for ballet. The other two main roles are Michael (best friend of Billy) and Debbie (daughter of Mrs Wilkinson, the ballet mistress), and then there are also the ensemble-based roles of the Ballet Girls as well as Small Boy and Tall Boy.
Auditions begin next month and continue through to the end of spring. They launch in Leeds on 11th January 2014 before moving on to other UK venues in Newcastle (1st February), London (15th March), Bristol (26th April) and Manchester (17th May). Those trying out for boy’s roles will be seen at any of the audition dates/locations, but must be a maximum height of 5 feet with no broken voices – tap and ballet experience is a bonus, but not essential. Auditions for the girls however, will only be held in Newcastle as the show is only looking for girls from the North East, with the added stipulation that they should be a maximum height of 4 feet 8 inches and have some ballet experience.
After 9 years in the West End, Billy Elliot is still going strong and its child cast are the stars of the show. The core of the musical is about following your dreams and it is now giving children all around the UK the means to do just that. It’s a wonderful opportunity for any ambitious young actor dreaming of performing on the West End stage.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 26th December 2013
For further information or to arrange an audition, you can email Children’s Casting Director, Jessica Ronane at email@example.com stating your city and date in the subject box or go to billyelliotthemusical.com/auditions.