Note: Jaxson’s final show as Billy in the Auckland Theatre Company production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) was on December 9, 2016.
Debut: October 10, 2016 (Auckland, New Zealand)
Total Performances as Billy: 21 (No partial shows)
Jaxson Cook was 12-years-old (D.O.B. = 4-May-2004) when he debuted as Billy in the Auckland Theatre Company production of BETM in Auckland, New Zealand. He is from Wellington, where he is a student at Hutt Intermediate School in Lower Hutt.
Jaxson has wanted to be Billy Elliot ever since he saw the film when he was a little boy. He used to spend countless hours on the soccer field doing pirouettes instead of chasing the ball. Before landing his dream role, Jaxson gained performing experience in other theatre shows. In 2014, he played the role of Kurt Von Trapp in the touring production of The London Palladium Production of The Sound of Music, and recently performed in Evita.
Jaxson has also had experience in film and TV. He appeared as an extra in TV shows Emu (2009) and Paradise Café (2008), and as a featured extra in After Shock (2008). He was also a lead actor for the ACC Awareness live TV campaign (2010), and played Charlie’s younger self in Lumen (2015), a Steven Spielberg TV pilot. Jaxson appeared as a featured extra in the film What we do in the Shadows (2013).
One of Jaxson’s biggest achievements was being chosen to represent New Zealand as a ‘Black Star’ at the World Championships of Performing Arts in Los Angeles in July 2016.
Jaxson was made aware of the BETM auditions when many people sent him the audition link on Facebook. After appearing in The Sound of Music, Jaxson had been told by the director that if he wanted to pursue a career in theatre he needed to be a triple threat. So he immediately enrolled in ballet and tap lessons at Chilton School of Dance in Lower Hutt. He took to dance like a duck to water and singing and acting seemed to just come naturally to him. Recently Jaxson has taken vocal lessons with Caii-Michelle Baker. Here’s a video showing Jaxson singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it shows off his excellent singing skills:
Credit: Video by Jaxson Cook
The BETM audition process was long with several steps to it, since the Auckland Theatre Company were conducting a national search to cast their Billys. Remarkably, with just a year and half of dance training, Jaxson was eventually chosen as one of three boys to be cast in the lead role of Billy.
The rehearsal process started with learning the dances. Since Jaxson lives an eight hour drive from Auckland, his dance teacher was sent videos of the dances to work on with him. In order to learn all the choreography, Jaxson had a grueling schedule of nine dance classes a week from April until July. Then, during the school holidays, Jaxson attended a two-week Billy boot camp with the other Billys and also the Michaels.
At the end of August, Jaxson and his mum had to move to Auckland to start full time rehearsals in preparation for the opening of the show. A rehearsal day runs from 9.15am-5.30pm, including schooling, for six days a week. The days are long but Jaxson says that they are utterly amazing.
For Jaxson, it’s great being part of one of the best shows in the world and he is loving every second of it.
A few weeks before the first performance, Jaxson was interviewed on the TV show ‘The Café’ with Jodi Dorday, who plays Mrs Wilkinson. Here is the interview:
Jaxson’s first performance as Billy on 10-Oct-2016 makes him the 164th actor to play the role worldwide.
Credit: Photo by Michael Smith
For more information about Jaxson Cook visit: