Note: Dean’s Final Performance as Billy in London was on November 12, 2011.
Debut: November 30, 2009 (London)
Total Performances as Billy: Unknown (Unreported data from the period he was Billy) (Recorded data: 191- includes 6 partial shows credited @.5 ea)
The senior Billy in the rotation at the time of his last show in London, Dean-Charles Chapman (D.O.B. = 7-Sep-1997) took an unusual path to the title role in that he played three different roles in the London production — the first actor to do so in any location anywhere Billy Elliot the Musical has played. His love of theatre and dance, and his determination to someday play Billy, had finally been rewarded. But his journey to be Billy started back before the show itself debuted at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Dean’s trek to the top of the cast board in the lobby of London’s Victoria Palace Theatre began in late 2004. At seven years old, he entered into rehearsals with the original cast of the show, and then played the role of Small Boy from March, 2005 to June, 2006. In fact he was the first actor to ever step on stage during a BETM performance. His idols back then were named James Lomas, George Maguire and Liam Mower — who were originating the role of Billy for the first time anywhere. Those first Billys obviously made quite an impression on the young Dean. At the Stage Door, the night of his last performance as Small Boy, he promised fans that he’d be back. And back he would be.
After leaving the show in the summer of 2006, Dean studied both Drama and Dance at Colin’s Performing Arts School in Essex, England, where he lived with his family. Then, after a two and half year absence, Dean returned to the cast of BETM – West End as Billy’s best friend, Michael, on December 3, 2008. The creative team liked what they saw in Dean’s acting and dance ability as Michael. So, after five months playing Michael, Dean left the show again in May of 2009 to devote himself to the training and rehearsals it would take to become Billy.
The culmination of all his hard work came when he debuted in the lead role on November 30, 2009. In a statement given in the days before his debut, Dean said “I am really excited about my first performance! I am going to dedicate my first performance as Billy to all those who have helped me along the way and Colin’s Performing Arts School where I studied…” Since his debut, Dean went on to draw raves from theatre goers for his self confident demeanour and his stage presence. Many especially liked the fact that he was a “ballet Billy”, something they hadn’t seen a lot of around that time at the Victoria Palace Theatre. The phrase, “ballet Billy”, means ballet is the primary dance genre he displays in such big show numbers as “Electricity”.
On May 11, 2010, Dean, Jake Pratt (Michael) and a contingent of ballet girls performed a specially choreographed combination of the show’s Finale and Expressing Yourself on Britain’s ITV1 program “This Morning”.
Credit: Video by MrWestendboy
In May of 2011, the BETM company released a new promotional video which features Dean as Billy. To this day it continues to be used to promote the show in the markets where BETM is being staged.
Credit: Video by the Billy Elliot the Musical Company
On November 12, 2011, Dean played the role for the 191st and final time. In the audience were family, friends and fans, including former Billys Ollie Gardner, Aaron Watson and Scott McKenzie, all of whom came to wish their friend the best as he moved on to his next adventure in the entertainment world.
It’s been a long trek, for sure, since those days when he was part of the original cast of the show, when that small boy of seven sat on the shoulders of the cast member who played his dad. Dean’s unique contributions to the show may never be matched and his mark on the role of Billy has a lasting place in the history of the show.
Life After Billy
Dean-Charles Chapman has been almost continuously busy since his departure from BETM, while almost exclusively working in front of a camera.
- He acted in two TV series in 2012. In one series called Cuckoo, “every parent’s worst nightmare – a slacker full of outlandish, New Age ideas,” he played the role of Charlie in the first season in an episode called Family Meeting. In the series The Revolting World of Stanley Brown, where a 13 year old boy gets visited by a robot and scientist from the future, he played the lead, Stanley.
- Dean picked up a mini-series in 2013 called The White Queen, playing the role of Richard Grey in four episodes. He also began working that year on the HBO hit series
Game of Thrones. His first appearance in the series was as a small character, Martyn Lannister, but he then returned in a major role, Tommen Baratheon. His appearances in that series over a four year period (2013-2016) makes it his longest running TV series and the performances he became most known for following his starring role as Billy Elliot.
- In 2014, Dean took a break from TV work while making his feature film debut co-starring with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman in the psychological thriller Before I Go To Sleep. He played the role of a boy named Adam Lucas, in this film about a woman with amnesia due to a traumatic accident in her past.
- But also in 2014 he returned to TV, acting in another TV series and a mini-series. In the mini-series Glue, a crime/mystery drama, he played Chris Pollard in episodes 1.3 and 1.7. He was Harry Ward in Ripper Street, a TV series about Jack the Ripper.
- In 2015 Dean played Harry in Man Up, a comedy/romance feature film, and he also appeared in three episodes of Fungus the Bogeyman, a fantasy/comedy TV mini-series. In that year, and again in 2017, he made appearances on Thronecast, a talk-show TV series about Game Of Thrones.
- In 2017, in the TV series Will, which was about the lost years of William Shakespeare, Dean played Billy Cooper. That same year he played the role of Jonathan at age 22 in Breathe, a romantic biography.
- He was Danny MacCauley in 2018’s mystery thriller The Commuter, which starred Liam Neeson. And in 2018/2019 he was involved in the action adventure TV series Into The Badlands, playing Castor for seven episodes.
- 2019 has been another very active year for Dean. He filmed the comedy drama Blinded By The Light, where he played Matt. He played Thomas of Lancaster in The King, a biographical history drama, acting alongside Timothee Chalamet.
- And 2019 also saw the release of the Golden Globe-winning movie from Director Sam Mendes and producer Steven Spielberg, 1917. In his first starring role in a feature film, Dean plays Lance Corporal Blake in a story about two young British soldiers during WWI who are given a mission to stop 1,600 men from walking into a deadly trap. Critics are calling it Dean’s breakout role, making him well known to many American film-goers as an adult actor for the first time.
- Dean has filmed a movie which is in post-production called Here Are The Young Men, a drama about Dublin teenagers leaving school to a “social vaccum of drinking and drugs, falling into shocking acts of transgression.” He stars as one of the teens named Matthew. The film is expected to be released in 2020.
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