Note: Ryan’s Final Performance as Billy in London was on September 1, 2012
Debut: April 13, 2011 (London)
Total Performances as Billy: 135.5 (includes 3 partial shows credited @.5 ea)
Ryan Collinson (D.O.B. 20-Aug-1998), became the 26th boy to play Billy Elliot in London and the 55th Billy over all worldwide when he made his debut on the stage of the Victoria Palace Theatre in the West End on April 13, 2011. He’s from the Woodvale section of Southport, England, a city which is north of Liverpool on the country’s northwest coast bordering the Irish Sea.
Ryan, whose home school was Christ the King in Southport before his days as Billy, comes from a free-style dance background. His talent was first recognized when, in June of 2009, he won the Junior section of the Search for a Star competition at Southport Fun Fest. After winning a regional contest in the Pontin’s Freestyle Dance competition in 2010, Ryan competed in Pontin’s National championships. Over 130 contestants were judged on choreography, style, presentation and performance in four age groups and Ryan placed first in the 11-14 age group.
The amazing thing is that unlike some of the boys who have become Billy, before he auditioned for BETM, he had no formal singing or acting training, but had taken two years of gymnastics classes and had taught himself how to street dance.
In an interview in Ryan’s hometown newspaper, The Southport Visiter, Ryan’s mum, Kayla Collinson-Wilson, said Ryan’s interest in dance all started when her son received Billy Elliot on DVD one Christmas. As has been mentioned, Ryan had done very little classical dance training before auditioning for the role. But once he saw that video, he wanted to be just like Billy, so he started dance classes. He auditioned for the West End cast after just eight lessons. After several call backs, he was awarded the part.
Says his mum: “I’m really, really proud him – absolutely made up, he just loves dancing. While acknowledging that Ryan has taken a little ribbing from his mates about his interest in dance, Kayla says ““He’s definitely growing in confidence and his good friends are all really supportive. “
And Ryan adds, referring to the day he was told he would be Billy, “It was the best day of my life and now I am living my dream!”
The Cast Board on Ryan’s Opening Night: April 13, 2011
At the end of August, 2011, Ryan appeared on Britain’s QVC television program. On the show, he performed Electricity, was interviewed about the role of Billy, and then capped it off with a rousing performance, along with the Ballet Girls, of the Finale from BETM. Here’s a video clip from that show:
Credit: Video by tomchiting
Credit: Photo by Paul Fryer
On April 15, 2012, a pre-Olivier Awards event was held at Covent Gardens in London to showcase West End shows. At that event, Ryan represented BETM when he danced his street version of Electricity:
Credit: Video by Sam4God
Ryan performed his final show as Billy on September 1, 2012. It was his 135.5 performance in the role (includes 3 partial shows @ .5 each).
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