A production of Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM) is currently being presented at the Tampere Workers’ Theatre (Tampereen Työväen Teatteri). Tickets were originally sold for performances from Oct 13, 2018 to Apr 27, 2019, with the official opening night on Oct 18, 2018. However, due to the huge popularity of the show the production will take a break after April before resuming performances from Sep 12-Nov 23, 2019.
This will be the third time that a production of BETM has been mounted in Finland, following on from two very successful previous productions – the first in Helsinki in 2015 and more recently in Vaasa in 2017/18.
The Tampere production of BETM is directed by Samuel Harjanne, who has directed many large musicals in Finland, most recently the Finnish production of Kinky Boots in Helsinki.
Over a year before the Tampere production opened, the search began to find three young actors to take on the lead role of Billy. More than a hundred boys turned up to the auditions and after a careful selection process they chose Osku Perkiö, Jiri Rajala and Simo Riihelä. From then, right up until the show opening, they trained very hard to prepare to play this huge role.
Director Harjanne has really enjoyed seeing these young actors grow during their preparation period. He himself was a child actor, having performed as ‘Gavroche’ in Les Misérables when he was 11 years old. Performing at such a young age changed his life and he told the parents of the Billys when they were cast that this opportunity would change their lives too.
When BETM was previously performed in Finland some critics didn’t like the use of bad language during the show, especially in the Helsinki production. The same translation of the show will be used in Tampere but Harjanne has said that they will not be removing any of the bad language. He says that swearing was part of the language used in a British coal mining community in the 1980s. “We’ll tell their story. If we start to censor the language, then we do not honour the story. The purpose of the theatre is not to censor history.”
The following video is of a presentation that the theatre did to the press to introduce their upcoming season. Clips from the presentation by the BETM cast are in the first couple of minutes, including sections from “Solidarity” with Jiri as Billy, “Electricity” with Simo as Billy and “Express Yourself” with Osku as Billy.
Credit: Video by smackthejack.net videot
Even before the Tampere production opened it has proved very popular with excellent ticket sales, and it has already been extended twice. The show is expected to run for a while and the search has begun to find Billys and Michaels to take over the roles when the original cast get too old.
Here is the official trailer for the Tampere production of BETM, featuring Simo Riihelä as Billy:
Credit: Video by Tampereen Työväen Teatteri
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Tampere cast, just click on the Cast Information button.