A production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) will be presented at the Teatro Municipal de las Condes in Santiago, Chile, from October 4 to November 17, 2019. This is the third production of BETM to be mounted in South America in the last couple of years — following on from recent productions in Peru (2018) and Brazil (2019).
The Chilean production will be directed by Luis Fierro. The opportunity to create their own version of BETM came with the challenge of replicating the rigorous process of finding their young protagonists that other productions have utilized. And so in Chile they tried a similar process to that which was used in London and New York, by creating “Billy Schools” to help train young boys to get the role of Billy. Talking about the process of finding such talented youngsters, Fierro said, “A Billy does not exist, a Billy has to be made.”
The search for the Chilean Billys began in late 2018 with open auditions and then they followed the London/New York model by then putting the potential Billys through extensive training, albeit on a smaller scale, before a final decision was made. Fierro expounds on the rawness that he was looking for in his Billys: “The essence of Billy is that he should not look perfect, so you have to prepare someone from scratch and they can not be a child who has had previous extensive training.”
Six months after the first audition, two boys were chosen from the potential candidates to star as Billy in Chile. They are Dorian Grobet and Facundo Yedro.
Since being cast they have been in intense training/rehearsals alongside the Michaels and the Ballet Girls. This took place from Monday to Friday at the Karen Conolly Academy in Recoleta, beginning after school at around 5:00 pm and lasting for four and a half hours, sometimes more. There they trained in singing, acting, ballet, tap and rhythmic gymnastics.
In July 2019 the young cast were joined by the adult cast members to begin full company rehearsals. This presented an unusual challenge for the adult cast. Santiago Meneghello, who plays Tony, explains that tap dance is not a widely used discipline in Chile, but the BETM choreography contains a lot of difficult tap. As the youth cast had been training for seven months prior to the adults joining them, this actually presented an opportunity for the children to help teach the adults in order to get their tap up to scratch, which in turn Meneghello said helped to build their relationships with each other.
The following trailer for the production was released a few months before the show opened:
To see a listing of the rest of the Santiago cast, just click on the Cast Information button.