Billy Elliot the Musical takes the inspiration story of the 2000 film Billy Elliot, and masterfully transforms it for the stage. The musical debuted in London’s West End in 2004, and ran for 11 years. The show has also been performed around the world.
While Billy Elliot The Musical doesn’t really have a major connection to the theme of my site, I wanted to include some of my visits to this show as it’s been a huge inspiration in my life. I will go through the various versions of the show and include some photos as well.
If you are interested in the history of this show, I highly recommend checking out TheSkyKid website. It has detailed information about all the performances around the world. It also has biographies about every boy to play Billy Elliot, including some follow up on what they’ve done after the show.
I bought the Billy Elliot The Musical cast recording shortly after it was released, but it actually took me a number of years to see the show in person. I didn’t get a chance (yet) to get to London or New York City, so when the show did an extended run in Toronto, I made plans with a friend to go see it. Needless to say, the show blew me away. I was captivated from the start, and I knew it wouldn’t be the only time I would see it.
1st Performance: June 4, 2011 – Billy played by Marcus Pei
As I loved the show, I wanted to share that with my parents. I bought us tickets and brought them to Toronto to see it. We ended up seeing it on closing night, and that was the first time I learned of the closing tradition. Normally the show ends with Billy and Michael on the stage, alone. Billy says “See ya Michael”, and Michael responds “Yeah, see ya Billy.” However, when the shows close, the tradition is for the actors to use their real names.
2nd Performance: September 3, 2011 – Billy played by Marcus Pei
When the same friend as above came with me to NYC to do a week of sightseeing, I asked if he would mind if we saw Billy Elliot there as well. He said he was fine with that. We picked a random night and bought tickets to the show. I didn’t know until we arrived that we were there for the 3rd anniversary show. Our seats were great, right up front. The show was introduced by Stephen Daldry, who directed the musical as well as the film.
At the end of the performance, all 4 current Billy’s as well as the 3 original Billy’s came out for a curtain call. It was a really cool moment that I was lucky to witness.
3rd Performance: November 15, 2011 – Billy played by Tade Biesinger
Here is a video I took during the Curtain Call. The quality isn’t great, but phone cameras were not very good back then.
At this performance, I purchased the Billy Elliot: Through the Lens coffee table book, which has since become a very rare and sought after book. I will show more further down, but I started collecting autographs of the casts in the book. I really wish I’d thought of it at this performance, considering how many cast members were there. Alas, hindsight is 20/20.
In 2011, I won free tickets to the US on United Airlines. However when my friend and I narrowed down the dates we could take vacation, there were no flights available to places like California, Texas, Florida, etc. I jokingly said to my friend “Watch, we’re going to end up going to Iowa.”
Well, the more we looked into it, the more a trip to Iowa seemed interesting, and the fact that the North American tour of Billy Elliot was in Des Moines was a big bonus for me, so we booked the flights. We actually ended up doing a bit of a road trip, visiting Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri as well, but we did spend a couple days in Des Moines. While there, we did a few things like a tour of the Capitol Building and an Iowa Cubs baseball game. We also attended a matinee performance of Billy Elliot. The theatre was not really nice, and the seating was laid out weirdly. It felt more like a large school auditorium compared to a theatre. But the show of course was fantastic.
After the show, we were waiting for our shuttle to arrive, and ended up getting to meet Kylend and his mother after the show. This was the first time I met one of the performers.
4th Performance: June 17, 2012 – Billy played by Kylend Hetherington
In 2011, the North American tour was coming to my hometown of Ottawa. It was a big thrill to have the show visit my home town. I actually planned a group booking through Broadway Across Canada, and about 40 family, friends, and dancers from my dance studio attended. After the show, I brought one of the dancers to the stage door, where we met some of the cast and got autographs.
Over the week, I attended three more performances on my own. It was at these shows that it crossed my mind to get autographs in my Billy Elliot: Through The Lens book that I bought back at the Broadway performance.
5th Performance: January 2, 2013 – Billy played by Drew Minard
6th Performance: January 5, 2013 – Billy played by Drew Minard
7th Performance: January 6, 2013 – Billy played by Noah Parets (matinee)
8th Performance: January 6, 2013 – Billy played by Mitchell Tobin
The following year, the touring production of Billy had closed, and they opened the rights for community productions to be staged. The first such production happened at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, Maine. This seaside resort community had built their playhouse in 1937, and has been staging major productions ever since. As reviews come out about the great production of Billy Elliot The Musical, I decided to make the trip down.
Most performances featured Noah Parets, who I had seen as part of the North American cast. The alternate Billy was Sam Faulkner, who played the part excellently, despite being a newcomer to the role.
At the Saturday matinee performance, the director came out before the show to introduce some guests in the audience. He first introduced Kara Dioguardi, who was a judge on American Idol at the time. He then introduced Former President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush, who received a large ovation. I was told that the couple regularly attended performances at the playhouse, as they lived close by in Kennebunkport.
9th Performance: July 25, 2014 – Billy played by Noah Parets
10th Performance: July 26th, 2014 – Billy played by Sam Faulkner (matinee)
11th Performance: July 26th, 2014 – Billy played by Noah Parets
In 2015, I brought my parents to England for a few weeks as their 40th anniversary gift. We stayed with friends up north and traveled around a lot. In planning the trip, I knew I had to return before them due to work committments, and I also had some sites in London I wanted visit that I knew they wouldn’t be interested in. So we made plans for them to stay with their friends while I spent some time in London alone.
In addition to visiting some museums and other sites I was looking forward to, I also attended 4 performances of Billy Elliot The Musical. Due to their same-day front-row seat sales, I queued up in the mornings and was able to get front row seats.
Due to some security concerns, the children in the show were not permitted to meet the audience after the show. They were actually whisked off in a van. However, I was able to meet many of the adult cast and get autographs in my book.
12th Performance: August 4, 2015 – Billy played by Thomas Hazelby
13th Performance 13: August 6, 2015 – Billy played by Ollie Jochim
14th Performance: August 8, 2015 – Billy played by Ollie Jochim (Matinee)
15th Performance: August 8, 2015 – Billy played by Nat Sweeney
Also during my week in London, I had the chance to attend a modern ballet called The Car Man, by famous choreographer Matthew Bourne. The reason I wanted to see it was because one of the stars was Liam Mower, one of the original Billy’s in London. The show featured a Q&A after the performance, and then I was able to meet Liam at the stage door, and have him sign my book.
In 2017, I found out a friend was performing in the Mexico City production of The Lion King, and that a production of Billy Elliot The Musical would also be happening. I decided to go down and visit, and see both shows.
I flew down and did some sightseeing with my friend, as I’d never been to the city before. Seeing The Lion King was a lot of fun. After we went out for late night tacos.
The next day, another friend and I attended 2 performances of Billy Elliot. It was my first time seeing the show in a different language, but as I’m so familiar, it was no issue to follow the story. The cast and production was really well done.
The lobby actually was set up as a museum, with a number of props and costumes from the show on display. They also had a series of articles to give the audience some background on the miner’s strike in England.
16th Performance: May 6, 2017 – Billy played by Aaron Marquez
17th Performance: May 6, 2017 – Billy played by Demian Ferraez
After the second show, we went to the lobby to meet the cast. We were able to get autographs from most of the adults as they departed. When the children came out, they were very excited to hear that I’d come from Canada to see the show. They were asking me questions and all wanted to sign my book. I was going to get a picture with Demian, who played Billy, when all the kids jumped into the photo, which turned out to be a very cool group picture.
Later that year, I was visiting a friend in Spain, and we made plans to visit Madrid. The Madrid production was very successful, and actually ran almost as long as the Broadway production did.
The theatre itself was very nice, an older classic looking theatre. We also noticed across the street was the Billy school, where the cast would practice and take dance classes. After the show, I did get autographs from Billy and some of the adult cast. According to my friend, the actors who played Tony and Mrs. Wilkinson were actually quite famous.
18th Performance: November 15, 2017 – Billy played by Diego Rey
In 2019, the Stratford Festival in Ontario announced that Billy Elliot The Musical would headline it’s season. A big Billy Elliot fan from London actually flew over to join me in attending.
Song and Dance: Billy Elliot Dance Workshop
The weekend actually started with a real treat. The Festival was holding a Billy Elliot dance workshop on the saturday morning. Despite having dance training, I made sure my friend could attend as well, and they assured me that many people have no dance background. When we arrived, we signed in and were taken to the rehearsal area upstairs. The room is set up as a replica of the stage. Two ensemble cast members ran the workshop, where they taught some of the steps in the finale of the show. It was a lot of fun to learn some of the dance, and get to participate in my favourite show.
After the workshop, we took a bunch of photos in the lobby, including a Billy backdrop that had been set up. We also met some older people who wanted me to give them some ballet poses for their photos.
That afternoon, we saw the matinee of Billy. We had chosen to buy seats off to the side, as the follow day we had splurged for front row seats. At the Festival Theatre, there really aren’t any bad seats, so we enjoyed the show just fine.
19th Performance: August 17, 2019 – Billy played by Nolen Dubuc
The next morning, we had booked a tour of the theatre. We were really taken all over, and told about the long history of the festival. Since the theatre was set up for Billy, we got to see a number of props and sets for the show during the tour.
That afternoon, we attended again, in our front row seats. The seats also came with a signed program and free drinks in the lounge. The show was excellent again.
20th Performance: August 18, 2019 – Billy played by Nolen Dubuc
After the performance, we went down to the stage door to get some autographs. We got to meet Nolen Dubuc, who played Billy, along with many of the other cast. This production was excellent, and it turns out it was their most successful show in 10 years.
Over the years, I’ve collected a few pieces of memorabilia from Billy Elliot The Musical, which are prized possessions.
As I mentioned above, I have been collecting autographs from the casts in my Billy Elliot: Through The Lens book. I have so many, I wouldn’t even be able to identify all of the signatures now. Hope I can continue add to it as I see more productions.
I have also been able to get 3 pairs of stage-worn ballet shoes. The first pair was worn by Ben Cook on the North American tour. Next is the pair belonged to David Alvarez, who was one of the three original Billy’s in the Broadway production. The three boys, including David, won the Tony Award for best actor. The final pair belonged to Marina Micalizzi, who was one of the original ballet girls in the Broadway production as well. I have made two shadow boxes to display them.
I’ve also been able to get some of the original programs from the London, Broadway, and Australian productions, as well as the North American tour program as well.