The first ever production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) in Spain was performed at the Nuevo Teatro Alcalá in Madrid. Previews began on September 22, 2017 and the official opening night was on October 5, 2017.
After a very successful three years in Madrid, the production’s final performance was announced for July 5, 2020. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 restrictions, the production had to close earlier than planned, and the last performance was on March 10, 2020.
The production will move to Barcelona later in the year and will reopen on October 1, 2020 at the Tivoli Theatre.
This production was a massive undertaking and had been in the works for years. According to producer Juanjo Rivero, it cost 5 million euros just to get the show on stage, and so they hoped for a long run as they needed a million customers in order to recoup their investment. Rivero also said that BETM was definitely the most complex show they had ever produced.
A very large cast brought the story of Billy Elliot to life on stage in Madrid — the show featured a cast of over 80, including a rotating child cast of over 50.
The search to find Madrid’s Billys began long before the production opened. SOM Produce, the producers of BETM in Madrid, knew that if the show was to be successful they would need a group of talented children to lead the cast. Therefore, they took on the task of selecting children with potential and funding their training. In order to do this they approached mother and son duo Carmen Roche and Víctor Ullate Roche, who run Scaena dance school in Madrid, to talk to them about the upcoming project and ask if they would consider running a Billy Elliot School. As soon as the name of the musical was mentioned, Víctor Ullate Roche was immediately interested. He had seen the show in London a few years previously and had been so touched by the story that he kept talking about it for more than a month afterwards. He was proud that Scaena had been asked to train the Spanish Billys and, knowing how hard the task would be, wanted to start training as soon as possible.
And so the casting process began as quickly as possible, with the first auditions held in March 2016. Two hundred young hopefuls from all around Spain turned up and, over the course of two days, they were whittled down to 35. These boys were invited to begin training at the Billy Elliot School. This was a big commitment for those who were from outside Madrid, as they had to move to the capital, change schools, and each of them needed a family member to accompany them as a guardian. The hard work began in earnest, as the school got to know each child individually to see their capabilities and their limits. There was a strong focus on classical ballet as it takes so much time to build up technique and proficiency in this area.
After months of training, a second selection was made, with just 17 boys being asked to continue on at the school. Further styles of dance, singing and acrobatics were added to their training schedule. It began to become clear to those teaching the boys who would play Billy and who would play Michael.
After a full year of training, on 28-Mar-2017, a presentation to the press was held at the Nuevo Teatro Alcalá to show off the results of all the hard work that the kids had put in at the Billy Elliot School. It included the girls who had been cast at the Ballet Girls, and the final 17 candidates for the roles of Billy and Michael. They performed a medley of numbers from the show including Dream Ballet, Shine, Electricity and Express Yourself. Here is a video from this event:
Credit: Video by BroadwayWorld Spain – musicales y teatro musical
On 10-Sep-2017 it was announced that, after a year and a half of preparation, the production had finally found their Billys. The six boys who were chosen to star as the original Billys in Madrid were Pablo Bravo, Pau Gimeno, Cristian López, Miguel Millán, Óscar Pérez and Diego Rey.
The following video shows the six Billys rehearsing while the director talks about the boys and the show:
Credit: Video by Billy Elliot
In the days leading up to the first preview, this trailer was released, featuring clips from the show itself:
Credit: Video by Billy Elliot
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Madrid cast, just click on the Cast Information button.