A regional production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) will be presented by The Very Popular Theatre Company at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle, Australia, from October 7-21, 2023.
The Very Popular Theatre Company is a Newcastle based company with a mission to bridge the gap between community theatre and professional theatre in the Hunter region. It was established in 2006 by producer Phil Collins of Hunter Lifestyle Magazine with Victor Emeljanow and Daniel Stoddart as Co-Artistic Directors with their aim being to produce live theatre events of a decidedly ‘popular’ style, including comedy, farce, vaudeville, music hall and musical theatre, amongst other significant styles.
In 2022 The Very Popular Theatre Company was one of just four theatre companies in Australia to be given a licence to stage the show outside of an Australian capital city. Producer and Artistic Director, Daniel Stoddart said, “We are particularly delighted to be the first of those four companies to actually produce it – we wasted no time getting plans in place to bring this one to Newcastle audiences!”
Auditions for the production of BETM were held in February 2023. The leading roles of Billy and Michael were both double-cast: Lewis Nicholson and Fergus Paterson will share the role of Billy, with Conway Oakhill-Saarenpaa and Charlie Murphy sharing the role of Michael.
The production has collaborated with the National College of Dance in Newcastle in order to prepare the four young actors for their upcoming roles. The Billys and Michaels spent weeks training at the ‘Billy School’ that had been set up there. A normal week for the Billys consisted of 3 hours of ballet training, an hour of acrobatics training and 2 hours of tap training as well as singing lessons. This is on top of their already packed schedule of dance and musical theatre classes.
Full company rehearsals then began in July 2023 in preparation for the show’s opening in October.
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Newcastle (Australia) cast, just click on the Cast Information button.