Meet Billy Elliot: Kylend Hetherington

    Note: Kylend’s final North American Tour performance as Billy was in Austin, Texas on December 14, 2012

    Debut: December 10, 2010 (Cleveland, OH)

    Total Performances as Billy: 151.5 (includes 3 partial shows credited @.5)

    Kylend Hetherington Thumb4Born on September 6, 1997,  Kylend Hetherington’s hometown is Auburn, Michigan.

    His early dance training took place at Miss Lore’s School of Performing Arts in Essexville, MI, beginning at the age of four, and he joined the competition team there at age six.  Kylend has participated in several dance competitions, beginning in 2003, winning several awards including Jr. Mr. Showbiz at a national competition in Chicago in 2008 and has won the Kids Artistic Revue title “National Mister Petite Dance” twice.  When he was eight-years-old, Kylend also performed at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, MI in the Moscow Ballet Great Russian’s presentation of the Nutcracker, on December 1st, 2005.

    At age nine, Kylend began taking ballet instruction parttime at the Northeast Academy of Dance (NEAD), which is located in Oscoda, Michigan. Two years later, at 11, he began taking lessons there full-time.  His instructor at NEAD was Giuseppe Canale, who is co-founder of the school.  Also during this period, Kylend began taking tap dancing lessons and credits his teacher, Bruce Bradley, with giving him a good foundation in that dance genre.

    Trevor Braun (Michael) & Kylend Hetherington (Tall Boy) Outside the Imperial Theatre
    Trevor Braun (Michael) & Kylend Hetherington (Tall Boy)

    Kylend initially auditioned for BETM in Detroit in 2008.  Like many of the other Billys, after that first audition, the process was wait to hear and then get another callback.  Kylend  was asked to come to New York four times before he was finally offered a role in the Broadway show in October of 2009.

    Kylend originally signed a contract for the role of Tall Boy/Posh Boy (and u/s for Michael) on Broadway.  After several weeks of rehearsal, he made his debut at the Imperial Theatre on November 17, 2009.  He would play that role for almost eight months.

    Meanwhile, Kylend worked very hard to master the role of Michael and was finally able to debut in that role on April 10, 2010.  He occasionally filled in for one of the regular Michaels until his final performance in the role on July 7, 2010.

    It wasn’t planned that way, but it would also be his last performance in BETM on Broadway as he broke a toe in a Billy acro practice a day later.  Kylend returned to the Imperial Theatre on Friday, July 9 to say goodbye to his friends in the Broadway cast and crew.  In her popular blog on the official BETM website, Kate Henning (Mrs. Wilkinson), described that night like this: “When the curtain drops after the finale this night we sing a special ‘Happy Trails’ to our broken Tall Boy, with many tears and many cheers of love and encouragement for his recovery. His poor mother stands helplessly in the wings, weeping. “

    But as much as it hurt to finish his first stay on Broadway in that fashion, Kylend was buoyed by the knowledge that this wasn’t to be the end of his involvement with Billy Elliot the Musical. This is, after all, a profile of the boys who play Billy in the show.  And, indeed, Kylend, all during the time he was playing Tall Boy and Michael on Broadway, he was also regularly joining in all the training the Broadway Billys regularly received, learning to play the lead role.

    In June, 2010 it had been announced that Kylend would be among the six new Billys in one of the three North American productions of the show. Later, it was learned he would join his fellow Broadway cast member Michael Dameski, Chicago Billy Giuseppe Bausilio and another of those six new Billys, Lex Ishimoto, in the Billy rotation for the new North AmericanTour.  In July came the news that the rotation for the new tour would actually number five Billys, when another experienced Aussie Billy, Daniel Russell, joined the mix.

    The 5 North American Tour Billys with Stephen Daldry (l-r) Michael Dameski, Giuseppe Bausilio, Daldry, Kylend Hetherington, Lex Ishimoto and Daniel Russell
    The 5 North American Tour Billys with Stephen Daldry (l-r) Michael Dameski, Giuseppe Bausilio, Daldry, Kylend Hetherington, Lex Ishimoto and Daniel Russell

    In late July, having recovered from his injury, Kylend joined Lex in continuing the intense training necessary to become Billy. Ballet class is a heavy part of the training curriculum and Finis Jhung, who is responsible for the pre-debut ballet training for new Billys in North America, began working with Kylend, Lex and Daniel in three a week sessions that would continue until October 6.

    Kylend travelled with the rest of the cast to Durham in early October to continue rehearsals at the theater where the show would open at the end of that month.  But he wouldn’t make his debut as Billy until Friday evening, December 10, 2010 in Cleveland, the Tour’s second stop.  That night the audience included family and friends who have supported him throughout his young career in dance and theater.  Among that support group are people like his ballet mentor, Giuseppe Canale, back at NEAD in Michigan who, when asked how he remembers Kylend as a student said:  “It was clear from the beginning that Kylend had a special kind of talent and was destined for a career in dance.  He is a hard working, attentive, down-to-earth student, with a wickedly funny sense of humor.  I look forward to watching his progress as he matures into a young man.” And progress he did.  

    All the cast pitched in to help promote the show each time it visited a new city. When BETMUS reached Detroit in September of 2012, it was only natural that Kylend and Ballet Girl Brionna Trilling — both from Michigan — would spearhead the rounds of the media outlets there.  In this video clip, Kylend and Brionna visit with Greg Bowman at WWJ AM 950 to talk about the show:

    Video by BroadwayInDetroit

    Kylend celebrated his 15th birthday in September and his third year in BETM on November 17 of 2012.  Three years is a long time for a child actor to be in any one show — a long time from that first night treading the boards on Broadway as Tall Boy/Posh Boy. At his request, BETM tour management consented to allow Kylend to play the role of Michael one last time at the matinee in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday, December 8, 2012.  Kylend’s last BETM appearance as Billy took place on Friday evening, December 14, 2012 in Austin, Texas.  It was his 151.5th  time playing the dream role he worked so hard to get and in which he excelled for so long.  Happy Trails, Kylend.

    Kylend Dances with Max Baud (Older Billy) in Dream Ballet

    Credit: Photo by Kyle Froman

    For more information about Kylend Hetherington, visit:

    Billy Elliot the Forum, Kylend’s Facebook Fan Page


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