Note: Charlie Garton’s final show as Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) at the Spreckels Theatre, presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, was on Oct 8, 2017.
Debut: September 22, 2017 (San Diego, CA)
Total Performances to Date: 11 (No partial shows)
Charlie Garton was 10 years old (D.O.B = 31-May-2007) when he made his debut in the role of Billy Elliot in San Diego. He lives in Solana Beach, CA, though his family originally come from the North of England.
Charlie started dancing when he was just three years old. He began with hip-hop and then took up hip-hop dance aged four or five. He has been taking formal dancing training since he was seven years old at Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA), which is a dance studio owned by his mother – Francine Garton. RAPA has recently merged with another San Diego dance studio, Del Mar Ballet, and now goes by the name Pacific Dance Arts Center.
For the last two years Charlie has been a competitive dancer, competing in all different styles of dance with much success. To name a few of his numerous accolades, he has won Mini Male Breakout Artist as well as scholarships to Dancer Palooza and The Dance Awards in Las Vegas. Here is a clip of Charlie competing his tap solo – Great Balls of Fire – at a recent competition, which shows off not only his dance skills, but also his charismatic and energetic performance skills:
Credit: Video by Royal Academy of Performing Arts – RAPA
Tap is his favorite style of dance, although Charlie says that he is best at lyrical. He is less keen on ballet: “It’s not my favorite,” he said. “I don’t like the bar because I don’t get to move.”
Charlie’s previous performing experience includes dance recitals, a production of The Nutracker, and in 2016 he performed in Lythgoe Family Panto’s A Snow White Christmas. Billy Elliot is his first major role.
In preparation for the Billy Elliot audition, Charlie took acting and singing lessons for a few weeks. After reading the script for the first time, Charlie didn’t actually want to audition because of the bad language in the show. “I didn’t want to do it when I realized there were so many bad words,” he said. Charlie did attend the audition in the end, but wasn’t successful in getting the lead role. However, the boy who had originally been cast as Billy stepped down due to a commitment with another show, and so auditions were held once again. Charlie was persuaded by his mother that it was alright to swear in the show as many of the words sound different in a Geordie accent. So Charlie tried out once more and this time was rewarded with the role of Billy.
The Billy Elliot story is particularly poignant to the Garton family, as their family originated from Northern England – his mother is from Liverpool, and his father is from Manchester – and they grew up in a working-class environment. For this reason, Charlie had an advantage compared to many other American Billys as he has a British accent like his parents, so he has found it easier to learn the Geordie accent for the show.
Charlie’s debut as Billy on 22-Sep-2017 makes him the 220th young actor worldwide to play the role in a professional, regional or community theatre production of the musical.
For more information about Charlie, visit: