Ten years after Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) was last performed in Australia, the show made a return, launching on October 10, 2019 in Sydney, and it went on to tour to Adelaide and Melbourne. Go here to see the details of the tour venues and dates. The 2019/20 Australian Tour followed on from the hugely successful original Australian production, which ran from 2007 to 2009 in Sydney and Melbourne. That was a very significant production, as it was only the second production of BETM worldwide (after London).
In fact, the 2019/20 Australian Tour cast included a couple of members of the original Australian cast of BETM. Justin Smith, who played Tony in the original production took on the role of Dad in the tour, and Paul Whiteley, who was the understudy Tony, was in the tour Ensemble.
The creative team who put together the tour in Australia included many members with a wealth of experience working on prior productions of BETM:
Simon Pollard (Associate Director) was the Resident Director in London, Associate Director for the UK & Ireland Tour and most recently he was the International Associate Director for the 2018 South Korean production of BETM.
Tom Hodgson (Associate Choreographer) was Resident Choreographer for the original Australian production, Associate Choreographer for Broadway and International Associate Director for the 2017 Japanese and 2018 South Korean productions.
The Australian Tour was announced in April 2018 and the search to find their Billys began immediately. They took submissions from aspiring young actors and dancers until the end of July 2018. Then followed a series of auditions alongside a rigorous training program, which eventually whittled down the hopefuls to just four boys.
The following video gives an insight into the audition process:
Credit: Video by Billy Elliot The Musical – Australia
The four talented youngsters who starred as Billy across Australia are Omar Abiad, River Mardesic, Wade Neilson and Jamie Rogers.
On May 31, 2019 a press launch was held to introduce the Australian Billys to the world. Here is a video from that event of the four boys performing a group version of Electricity:
Credit: Video by StageWhispersTV
Full cast rehearsals began on August 12, 2019 and then, after just over a month of rehearsals, the cast moved into the Sydney Lyric Theatre on September 18 to prepare for opening night in October.
The BETM cast received a surprise visitor to one of their performances in Sydney — none other than Elton John himself. He even joined the cast on stage to take a bow at the end of the show.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Australian Tour was forced to end on March 15th, a month before its scheduled end date in Melbourne (April 19th).
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Australian Tour cast, just click on the Cast Information button.