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Theatre / Meet the Cast
Billy Elliot The Musical: Get to know the incredible Melbourne cast
Billy Elliot The Music is about to land in Melbourne – so what better time to meet the incredible cast ready to bring the much-loved story to life
Celebrating ten years since its spectacular debut Australian tour, Billy Elliot is set to arrive in Melbourne this February for a strictly limited season.
The story: The life of 11-year-old Billy Elliot, a coal miner’s son in Northern England, is forever changed when he stumbles upon a ballet class during his weekly boxing lesson. Before long, he finds himself in dance, demonstrating the kind of raw talent seldom seen by the class’ instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson. Her zest for teaching is revived when she sees Billy’s potential. And so the adventure truly begins.
Based on Stephen Daldry’s 2001 film, the musical is the brainchild of one Elton John who had to create a stage adaptation, providing a brilliant soundtrack that drives the show. Since opening it has played in London, Broadway, Australia, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Japan and Israel.
Meet the Billy Elliot cast:
The main role of Billy Elliot will be played by four boys – Omar Abiad, Wade Neilsen, Jamie Rogers, and River Mardesic. Chosen from over 600 auditionees, the boys come from right around the country – Abiad is from Brisbane, Neilsen from Newcastle, Rogers from Canberra and Mardesic from Melbourne. What makes their casting even more special is the fact that they are all making their professional debuts, in a role that has been described as one of the most demanding in theatre.
The Billys – Credit: James D. Morgan/Getty Images
After filling in the role for a number of performances during the recent Sydney season, Lisa Sontag will now take over the role of the tough but supportive ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson. She made her professional debut in the original cast of The Boy From Oz before graduating from WAAPA. Continuing her professional career, she went on to work with the Production Company in Call Me Madam, Guys and Dolls, The Boy From Oz and as Zelda Zanders in Singin’ in the Rain. Most recently, Sontag performed in and understudied multiple lead roles in MAMMA MIA! The Musical, The Producers, Hayes Theatre’s Sweet Charity, Mary Poppins, Les Misérables, The Addams Family, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and played the role of Frenchy in Grease – The Arena Spectacular for which she won a Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Justin Smith will be taking over the role of Billy’s Dad. No stranger to Billy Elliot The Musical, Justin played Billy’s older brother Tony. An acclaimed theatre and screen actor in his own right, his musical credits also include Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent. His television credits include Foxtel’s Deadline Gallipoli, Underbelly: Badness, and Bastard Boys (nominated for an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor). While his feature film credits include Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales and Sleeping Beauty. This year, he will reprise his role in Foxtel’s Secret City and in award-winning ABC comedy The Letdown.
Billy’s hot-headed brother Tony will be played by Drew Livingston. Drew toured Australia in the National Theatre’s War Horse, while his other theatre credits include Bell Shakespeare’s Henry V, Sport for Jove’s Cyrano de Bergerac and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Ensemble Theatre’s Taking Steps. On television, he has appeared in Channel 9’s Tricky Business. Drew is also an accomplished musician and composer.
Vivien Davies will play Billy’s eccentric Grandma. Her extensive theatre career in Australia has lasted more than four decades. In 1972, her first acting role was with Theatre 62 in Adelaide playing the role of Tilly in Man in the Moon Marigolds. She went on to join the Melbourne Theatre Company, where she has been a regular, performing in shows including A Dolls house, The Matchmaker, and Macbeth. Her musical theatre credits include Les Misérables, The Boy from Oz, and Menopause the Musical.
The town’s boxing coach will be played by award-winning actor Robert Grubb. As well as being a regular with State Theatre Company South Australia, Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company, he has also starred on television and in film. On stage, his credits include Madame Butterfly, MAMMA MIA!, Shane Warne: The Musical, and Strictly Ballroom The Musical. He was awarded the Helpmann Award for his performance in We Will Rock You, as well as Helpmann Nominations for his roles in My Fair Lady and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Robert’s film and television credits include Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Phar Lap, Gallipoli, Seachange, and Neighbours.
Mr Braithwaite will be played by Dean Vince, Billy’s Mum by Danielle Everett, and Older Billy by Aaron Smyth.
Billy Elliot The Musical will come to Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from Thursday 20 February, with performances locked in until Sunday 19 April. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.com.au.