Note: Rhys’s final show as Billy in the Melbourne production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) was on 19-Apr-2009.
Debut: 13-Nov-2007 (Sydney)
Total Performances as Billy: Unknown (Data for Sydney show was not recorded) Recorded data: 21.5 (Includes 3 partial shows credited @.5 each)
Rhys Kosakowski was 13-years-old (D.O.B = 18-Oct-1994) when he debuted as Billy in the Sydney production of BETM. He is from Newcastle, New South Wales, and, before auditioning for BETM, was a student at St Philip’s Christian College.
Rhys started dancing at the young age of five, and he trained in many styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, modern and hip hop. His dance training was taught by Miss Karen A. Thomas, and then at the Marie Walton Academy. Rhys was also a competitive gymnast.
The first performing experience that Rhys had was with the Queensland Ballet Company, when he performed in their touring production of The Nutcracker.
Rhys’s first audition for the role of Billy Elliot was in his hometown of Newcastle. He then underwent many months of intense dancing, singing and dialect training before finding out that he had secured the role.
A similarity that Rhys shares with Billy is that Rhys’s father also worked in the coal mining industry. He drove coal trains in Newcastle, which, like the English city of the same name, was a coal mining town.
Rhys debuted as Billy in the very first performance at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney on 13-Nov-2007. This made Rhys the 14th Billy worldwide, and notably the first actor to play the role outside of London.
Furthermore, Rhys was then chosen to lead the Sydney cast at their official opening and press night on 13-Dec-2007. He rose to the occasion and one reviewer described his performance as follows: “Rhys Kosakowski certainly did not shy from the challenge of playing Billy on opening night. Enthralling to watch, his dancing was more than technically adept. From grief and frustration to outright joy, the emotions underpinning his movement also ran deep. And what an all-rounder! Just as his dancing is sleek and potent, Kosakowski’s singing is tender and his acting true.”
Credit: Photo by eltonjohn.com
Here’s a video giving a glimpse of Rhys’s excellent performance skills. It is from Australian television and shows him performing “Electricity”:
On 21-Jan-2008 at the Sydney Theatre Awards, Rhys and the other three original Sydney Billys – Rarmian Newton, Lochlan Denholm and Nick Twiney – won the 2007 award for Best Actor in a Musical. They also went on to win the same award at the 2008 Helpmann Awards.
Rhys continued to perform in the role of Billy when the production was moved from Sydney to Melbourne in December 2008. He eventually performed his final show on 19-Apr-2009, and was the last of the original Australian Billys to leave the cast.
Post Billy Activities
After leaving BETM, Rhys started full-time training at the National College of Dance in Newcastle.
In 2010 Rhys made it to the final eight competitors for the McDonald’s Ballet Scholarship, which is a prestigious award worth 18,000 Australian dollars.
Aged 16, in 2011, he joined MOD Dance Company as their youngest member. He toured Australia with the company, performing Graeme Murphy’s “Suite Synergy”.
In 2012, Rhys became a member of Houston Ballet II, which is Houston Ballet’s second company and is a part of the Houston Ballet Academy.
Rhys was then promoted to the main company of the Houston Ballet in 2014, and is still a member of the company as of 2016.
Credit: Photo by Peter Stoop
For more information about Rhys Kosakowski visit: