A revival of the Japanese production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) will open on September 11, 2020 at Akasaka ACT Theater in Tokyo, and will run there until October 17, 2020. The production will then transfer to Umeda Arts Theater in Osaka for shows between October 30 and November 14, 2020.
This production was originally scheduled to open in Tokyo on July 12, 2020 but due to the Coronavirus pandemic the opening had to be delayed by two months for safety reasons.
BETM was first performed in Japan in 2017. That first production was incredibly popular and the seasons in both Tokyo and Osaka mostly sold out. Therefore it wasn’t surprising that just a year later, in October 2018, it was announced that BETM would return to Japan in 2020. 16 members of the 2017 cast will return to the show in 2020.
The search for the four young actors who would take on the lead role of Billy began in December 2018 when the company began taking submissions from aspiring Billys. Then in April 2019 the first round of in person auditions took place, from which a select group of boys were chosen to take part in intense training over the summer. From this group, actors would be chosen to play the roles of Billy and Michael. The final audition then took place in December 2019, where 8 Billy hopefuls and 8 Michael hopefuls had their last chance to impress the audition panel.
On December 24, 2019 the four young actors who had been chosen to play Billy in Japan in 2020 were announced. They are Shirabe Kawaguchi, Kairu Nakamura, Taichi Toshida and Denis Watanabe.
Here are the Japanese Billys performing a group version of Electricity:
Credit: Video by ホリプロステージ Horipro Stage
Unfortunately, in early 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic meant that training and rehearsals had to be temporarily suspended, and the performances that were scheduled for July and August were cancelled. The Billys continued their training at home during this time before they were allowed to come together once again in July 2020 to resume rehearsals.
A few days after the first preview, the Japanese production held a media call at which they performed a few numbers from the show. The following video shows excerpts from these performances — The Stars Look Down and Shine with Kairu Nakamura as Billy, Expressing Yourself with Taichi Toshida as Billy, Angry Dance with Shirabe Kawaguchi as Billy, and Solidarity with Denis Watanabe as Billy:
Credit: Video by エンタステージ2
To see a complete listing of the rest of the 2020 Japanese cast, just click on the Cast Information button.