Note: Jacob’s Final Performance as Billy on Broadway was July 3, 2011
Debut: April 3, 2010 (Broadway)
Total Performances as Billy: 122.5 (includes 1 partial show credited @.5)
Jacob Clemente made his debut as Billy at the evening performance on Saturday, April 3, 2010. Jacob is from North Greenbush, New York (near Albany). At the time of his debut, he was the youngest Billy ever to appear in Billy Elliot the Musical on Broadway (D.O.B. = 12-Apr-1997). With the departure of Alex Ko, Jacob became the senior Billy on Broadway with over 100 appearances in the role.
At an early age, Jacob was very into sports, particularly hockey and wrestling. About the latter he says, “I was a good wrestler, but once I started dancing, I just liked it better.” He started dancing when he was seven years old, taking classes at The World of Dance in Colonie, NY. Jacob’s parents, Linda and Jude, have always been very supportive of him and his three siblings, who all have taken dance as well.
Jacob has won several dance titles in competitions, including Junior Mister StarQuest in 2007 and was the Mini Outstanding Dancer at the National New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) competition in 2008.
Here he is performing as the Mini Outstanding Dancer:
Credit: Video by NYCDA
Jacob is also friends with another pretty respected young dancer from the Albany area — former London Billy Corey Snide — who has also appeared in the Broadway production of “13”. Jacob and Corey have danced together competitively. But as impressive as his dance credentials are, Jacob also brings with him to Broadway a long resume of achievement in musical theater. He has honed his singing and acting skills at the East Greenbush Staging Youths’ Future Inc. (SYFI), appearing in such productions as Suessical, the Musical, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Grease, Cinderella, Annie and Beauty and the Beast. All three of Jacob’s siblings are involved with performing as well. Kathie LaRosa, who is the president, show director and creative force behind SYFI, said of Jacob, “This young man was the most directable child I’ve worked with”. She added, “Jacob is amazing when it comes to focusing and working hard. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
In early 2006, as a nine year old, Jacob first auditioned for the role of Billy. While those conducting the tryout were impressed enough with his skills to give him a call back after the initial audition, they eventually told him that he was too young but that they would call him back in the future. In 2008, Jacob’s mom saw an audition announcement for the Broadway show Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone. Jacob, his brother and sisters all tried out and he was eventually given the role of a newsboy in the show. Upon learning that Jacob would make his Broadway debut in Gypsy, Danielle Cuzdey of the World of Dance Studio said that Jacob ” is such a big talent. He is one of those wonderful and genuine kids you just can’t wait to work with. He has worked hard for this. He earned it.” Jacob appeared in Gypsy from September 2008, to January 2009.
After Gypsy, Jacob was again asked to audition for BETM. This time he got the role. However, he was asked to play another role in the show temporarily until his Billy training began in November of 2009 — that of Tall Boy/Posh Boy. He debuted in that role on October 2, 2009. Then, after a little over a month, he went into full time “Billy School” to train as a Broadway Billy. He did occasionally appear as Tall Boy/Posh boy during his Billy School training, to spell his replacement in that role, Kylend Hetherington, when Kylend wasn’t available. He also helped celebrate Billy’s first birthday on Broadway in November, 2009.
Almost five months of training paid off when Jacob made his debut in the title role.
On June 17, 2010, the then Billys on Broadway (Alex Ko, Michael Dameski, Dayton Tavares, Liam Redhead and Jacob Clemente) were presented with a joint Beacon Award at the Players Club in NYC. Jacob represented the Billys at the ceremony and accepted the award on all of their behalves.
On September 7, 2010, Jacob and fellow Billys Alex Ko, Liam Redhead and Dayton Tavares participated in the first ever event in the new White House Dance series hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.The boys led a workshop in the afternoon, teaching the youth dance participants in attendance some of the dance steps from BETM. They also got to meet famed choreographer Judith Jamison, who is best known as the long time Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.
As part of Broadway’s quest to support the Trevor Project, Jacob joined other Broadway actors recently to record a song “It Gets Better”. A video of that recording session can be seen on the Trevor Project’s website.
In his official bio, Jacob said “I am very grateful to God, my dance and voice teachers, and prior directors for giving me the skills to get here. I especially want to thank my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, brother Tory and sisters Mandy and Lydia, who have all sacrificed so that I could reach my dream to “Be Billy”.
On July 3, 2011, Jacob completed his journey as Billy, playing the role for the 122.5th and final time on the Imperial Theatre stage.
There is no doubt with Jacob’s talent and performing experience, we will again see him tread the boards on Broadway in the near future.
Credit: Broadway.com Photo
Life After Billy
- After his final show as Billy, Jacob stuck around NYC and participated in a few performances there including a role in an Anti-Meth PSA directed by Darren Aronofsky, a production of Camelot at the Irish Repertory Theatre with Jeremy Irons, a Saturday Night Live sketch, and a KPMG commercial.
- For the 2011/12 school year, Jacob returned home to public high school in East Greenbush, New York. In high school there he performed in a variety of school productions including Les Miserables and Suessical the Musical. He also played the Delivery Boy in an episode of Boardwalk Empire.
- During his sophomore year of high school, Jacob taught tap dance lessons at dance studios in the area.
- Jacob graduated from high School in 2015 as the National YoungArts winner for Tap Dancing.
Credit: Video by YoungArts
- He then began a double major in Economics and European History at Yale University. During his time at Yale, Jacob participated in an A Cappella group (Alley Cats), a sketch-comedy group (Fifth Humor) and a tap-dancing group (Taps).
- In his Senior year at Yale he received the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship from the Department of Education. Upon graduation in 2019, Jacob received Bachelors degrees in history and economics, graduating with honors. He was awarded the Fox International Fellowship and also won the Wolfgang Leonhard Prize in Russian and Eastern European Studies (an interdisciplinary award) for his senior thesis.
- This year Jacob is researching a history project in Moscow through the Fox International Fellowship. When he returns to the United States, he would like to work for a year and then enroll in a History PhD program.
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