Seacoast Repertory Theatre (Seacoast Rep) is a non-profit, professional regional theatre located in historic downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Its auditorium was the home of a production of Billy Elliot The Musical (BETM) from February 7 to March 9, 2019.
Despite the fact that the theatre utilizes a three quarters thrust stage, by design making an audience’s theatre experience an intimate one, Seacoast Rep is no stranger to producing traditionally large productions on its stage. For example, the 2018 season was the theatre’s 30th anniversary season, having been established in 1988. Shows in 2018 included:
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- In The Heights
- The Producers
- The Who’s Tommy
- Avenue Q
In addition to BETM, which kicked off the 2019 season at Seacoast Rep, other shows will include The Wedding Singer, Steel Magnolias, West Side Story, Evita and a recent Tony Award winning show with one of the award-winningest scores in Broadway history, which can’t be announced until April, 2019.
In an article on the fosters.com website, Seacoast’s interim Artistic Director, Jamie Bradley, talked about how BETM came to be chosen to kick off Seacoast Rep’s 2019 season: “I had a few titles that were given to me as suggestions and I ended up going with ‘Billy Elliot’ because it was a recognizable title, and such a heartwarming story of acceptance and love. It’s also a large show to produce, so I wanted to kick the season off big.”
The Fosters article goes on to relate that Bradley’s first move was to hire Director-Choreographer Rachel Bertone, who had previously choreographed the BETM production at the Ocean State Theatre in Rhode Island and acted as a choreographic consultant for the Wheelock Family Theatre production in Massachusetts.
But the biggest single challenge was casting, Bradley says. “It’s not easy to cast because of the specific requirements. It’s a major challenge,” Bradley stated. “It’s such a specific skill-set required of the cast. The children have to be the best around.”
Billy and his friend Michael “were the sticking points, because of their ages.” Through connections Bertone has as an educator at Emerson College and Boston Conservatory, they were able to cast Liam Redford as Billy, a role he recently performed at the Signature Theater in Arlington VA, and Burke Brickner, a New York actor, as Michael, a role he recently played at the Cape Cod Repertory Theatre in nearby Brewster, MA.
All-in-all, says Bradley, “I feel really great about this one. Everyone is in a really good place, the actors are in rehearsals and it’s going well.”
As noted above, the cast was led by a veteran of actually two previous starring stints as Billy. Liam Redford has led the casts of regional productions in both Williamstown, NJ and the aforementioned show in Arlington, VA.
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Seacoast Rep cast, just click on the Cast Information button.
In the days before the show opened, Seacoast Rep produced this video clip, featuring Liam Redford, to promote the show: