Note: Jesse Flaherty’s last show as Billy in Theatre Cedar Rapids’ production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) was on July 22, 2017.
Debut: June 30, 2017 (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Total Performances as Billy: 11 (No partial shows)
Jesse Flaherty was 11 years old (D.O.B = 24-Sep-2005) when he debuted as Billy in the Theatre Cedar Rapids production of BETM in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jesse is from Fairfax, IA, and is the youngest of four siblings, with two older brothers and one sister. He is a 5th grader at Prairie Creek Intermediate School in Cedar Rapids.
Jesse has been dancing since he was seven years old. He has been taking dance classes at The Dancers Edge in Hiawatha for four years, and is currently a member of their company.
Jesse regularly competes in dance competitions. Some of his recent accolades include placing second overall in the age 9-11 secondary solo category at the KAR competition, and winning first place in the Junior Solo section and an award for Excellence in Technique at the Bravo Competition.
Besides dancing, Jesse’s hobbies include playing the piano and playing percussion in the school band.
Jesse’s journey to becoming Billy Elliot started in September 2016 with a fortuitous meeting between the show’s director, Angie Toomsen, and a woman who knew Jesse. The two of them were working next to each other placing sandbags to hold back Cedar River floodwater and during a conversation the woman said to Toomsen, “I know this kid and he hasn’t really acted before and I don’t think he sings, but he is Billy Elliot.” This led Toomsen to seek out Jesse’s mother in order to ask him to attend an audition for the show. Jesse’s audition in March 2017 confirmed that he was all the things they had hoped he would be, and sure enough he was cast in the lead role.
Billy Elliot is not only Jesse’s first lead role, but it is in fact the first time that he has ever performed in a play. Of all the things he would have to do as Billy, Jesse was most worried about singing, but after rehearsing for a while he has become much more comfortable with it.
Here is a promotional video for the Cedar Rapids production, featuring Jesse as Billy. The video gives a taste of Jesse’s excellent dance skills:
With his debut on 30-Jun-2017, Jesse becomes the 196th actor in the world to play the role of Billy.