Note: Rhys’s Final Performance as Billy in London was April 9, 2011
Debut: March 26, 2010 (London)
Total Performances as Billy: Unknown (Unreported data from the period he was Billy) (Recorded data: 106.5 – includes 5 partial shows credited @.5 ea)
When he debuted on March 26, 2010, Rhys Yeomans (D.O.B. 23-Feb-1998) became the 22nd West End Billy and the 39th boy world-wide to play the role. Rhys is from Chadderton, a town in Oldham, Lancashire, England. When he stepped on the stage of the Victoria Palace Theatre that first time, he was the youngest boy to play the title role in London. It was the culmination of 23 months of training for the part.
Rhys began dance classes at the age of nine, though his mom Joanne says Rhys displayed a desire to perform from a very early age. “He has been dancing and singing since he was two,” she said. “He’s never been into football, although he likes it, so I thought we should channel his passion into something he loves doing.”
In early 2007, the channelling of his energy toward performing was sated by his joining the StageCoach Theatre Arts program, at New Bridge School, Oldham. The Stagecoach curriculum centers on the three main disciplines of the performing arts: Drama, Dance and Singing. The program’s faculty features experienced teachers with professional backgrounds as performers, choreographers, directors and musicians. Rhys took classes there every Saturday.
When he initially auditioned for Billy Elliot, he was praised for his singing abilities, but was told to improve his dancing. So Rhys enrolled at the Centrepointe Dance School in Denton, Manchester where he immediately began to improve. If Centrepointe sounds familiar to some readers, that may be because another student from that school had a very successful career at VPT himself, former Billy Matthew Koon. Centrepointe was founded by Caroline Wright, who is a Royal Ballet School graduate and whom Rhys gives high praise for developing his dance skills.
In May of 2008 he tried out again for BETM. This time he was asked to join the “Billy School”, which BETM runs in Leeds and where potential Billys are involved for up to two years in the intense training that it takes to be Billy. In September, 2009, Rhys learned that he would definitely be playing Billy in the West End. He then spent the next six months preparing for his debut.
In an interview with the London Times, Rhys was asked what his favorite part of the show was. “My favourite scene is when Billy goes to his big audition,” he says excitedly. “It all goes a bit wrong and he ends up punching another boy. I like it because the audience think he hasn’t got the part, but he has. You get loads of laughs but you also get to see Billy really dancing.” In that scene, Billy is asked what it feels like when he dances. His response is his biggest number in the show called “Electricity” in which Billy impresses the audition judges with his talent and during which he electrifies the audience in the show.
Credit: Photo by Alastair Muir
On June 19, 2010, Rhys, Jake Pratt (Michael) and the Ballet Girls performed a specially choreographed combination version of two of the show’s biggest numbers, Expressing Yourself and the Finale, at the annual West End Live event in London. This video captures their performance at West End Live:
Credit: Video by Samar Nasseri
In his official BETM bio at the time he was Billy, Rhys says, “I have enjoyed every moment of my Billy Elliot training in London and I am really excited about my first performance on stage in front of a live audience!” When he finally did debut, all reports were that he got his career off to a fine start with a flawless first performance. And, as he grew into the role, a couple of times a week he got the chance to channel his excitement into two hours and 50 minutes of doing what his mom says he likes to do best – performing.
Rhys played Billy for the last time on Saturday, April 9, 2011 — his 106.5th performance in the role (includes 5 partial shows @ .5 each).
For more information on Rhys Yeomans visit: