In 2017 Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) finally made its debut in Japan, a country where the musical had been popular for many years. The Japanese production opened on 19-Jul-2017 at Akasaka ACT Theater in Tokyo, and ran there until 1-Oct-2017. The show then transferred to Umeda Arts Theater in Osaka for shows between 15-Oct-2017 and 4-Nov-2017.
The Japanese production of BETM began the search for their Billys in November 2015 when they advertised auditions. These adverts received an overwhelming response, with 1346 young hopefuls sending in applications to play the title role. The lengthy audition process then began. By April 2016 they had whittled this number down to 450, and after many more auditions they selected their seven finalists.
These seven received months of training in all the skills they would need to play Billy: ballet, tap, acting, acrobatics and singing. At this point in the process, as has happened with many other major productions around the world, some members of the London creative team came to help with the final casting – Simon Pollard, the London Resident Director, and Damian Jackson, the London Resident Choreographer.
On December 18, 2016, over a year after the audition process had begun, the Japanese casting team was finally ready to announce their four Billys at a press event. The four talented young men who were chosen to star as Billy in the original cast in Japan were Kosei Kato, Sakuya Kimura, Haruto Maeda, and Kazuki Mirai.
In February 2017, another press event was held at which the four Billys gave their first live performance. They performed Electricity together in a version reminiscent of that which the three original London Billys performed at the Royal Variety Performance back in 2005.
Credit: Video by Aiden Lee
In May 2017, it was announced that one of the other seven Billy finalists – Riki Yamashiro – had also been cast in the role. He began in the role of Tall Boy and, after about a month, started playing Billy.
Here is the official trailer for the Japanese production of BETM:
Credit: Video by ホリプロオンラインチケット
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Japanese cast, just click on the Cast Information button.