Meet Billy Elliot: Ryan Vanselow

    Note:  Ryan Vanselow’s final show as Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) at Waukesha Civic Theatre in Wisconsin was on November 11, 2018.

    Debut: October 25, 2018 (Waukesha, WI)

    Total Performances as Billy:  12  (No partial shows) 

    Ryan Vanselow was 13 years old (d.o.b. = 29-Nov-2004) upon his debut as Billy Elliot in the Waukesha production of the musical.  He is home schooled, attending the online Wisconsin Connections Academy.  When not on stage, Ryan enjoys exploring technology of all kinds.

    With regard to his performance training, Ryan has had about a year and a half of jazz and tap training – mostly through private lessons with Sudbrink Performance Academy, The Box Theatre, and Waukesha Civic Theatre.  In January 2018 he successfully auditioned for the Main Street Song & Dance Troupe, adding a bit more dance training through that.

    His main forte has been doing community theatre, which he’s done for about three and a half years.

    But during that time, Ryan has been on stage… a lot.

    Shows he’s appeared in prior to BETM include:


    • Shrek the Musical Junior!  New Berlin West Performing Arts Center
    • Oliver! (The Artful Dodger)  New Berlin West Performing Arts Center
    • The Addams Family Musical  (Mal Beinike)  Sunset Playhouse


    • Bye Bye Birdie (Randolph MacAfee)  Imagination Theatre
    • A Disappearing  (Tommy)  Walker’s Point Center for the Arts


    • Seussical Jr. (Horton the Elephant)  New Theatre on Main
    • Beauty and the Beast (Lumiere)  Sudbrink Performance Academy
    • Best Christmas Pageant Ever  (Bob Bradley) New Berlin West Performing Arts Center
    Ryan Vanselow as Horton the Elephant in Seussical Jr.

    In 2017, Ryan also sang with the Milwaukee Metro Voices in their concert called My World of Disney.


    • Guys and Dolls (Nicely-Nicely)  New Berlin West Performing Arts Center
    • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Judah)  The Box Theatre Co.
    • Judy Moody & Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt  First Stage
    • School of Rock (Lawrence)  Sudbrink Performance Academy
    Ryan Vanselow (center) as Lawrence (the keyboardist) in ‘School of Rock’

    Billy Elliot The Musical at Waukesha Civic Theatre

    In February 2018, Ryan learned that Waukesha Civic Theatre was going to be staging Billy Elliot and was determined to be a part of it!  The catch was that he had no ballet training.  It took some time to find someone who was able to work with him and his hectic theatre rehearsal schedule, but in April he started focused ballet training at MainStage Academy of Dance, as well as supplementing with some additional training at Petite Pas Ballet School.

    With as much training as time allowed, Ryan attended the first BETM audition on 24-Jun-2018, which consisted of singing, ballet and jazz.  Callbacks were on 28-Jun-2018 and contained more singing, ballet and jazz, as well as adding in tap and cold readings.

    On 29-Jun-2018, the family got a phone call offering Ryan the title role.

    Ryan rehearsing his ballet

    Rehearsals for Ryan began with choreography in July/August, two to three days per week, followed by blocking, music and large group choreography rehearsals.  This means that Ryan has been rehearsing four days a week and then, in October, a fifth day was added.  During that time he has also continued private ballet and tap lessons.

    General Performance Skills

    An example of Ryan’s acting skills can be seen on this video clip made for a recent audition.  In addition to his acting abilities, there’s also a bit of him showing off his tap dancing skills near the end of the tape:

    Finally, to get a feel for Ryan’s excellent singing voice, here’s a video clip of him singing ‘Sante Fe’, from Newsies:

    Credit: Video by Lori Vanselow

    Ryan’s debut performance as Billy on 25-Oct-2018 makes him the 256th actor worldwide to play the role in a professional, regional or community theatre production of the musical.

    For more information about Ryan Vanselow, visit:

    Billy Elliot the Forum, Facebook


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