Credit: Title photo by Mike Blevins
Note: Tommy’s final performance as Billy was in Chicago on Sunday, October 10, 2010.
Debuts: February 10, 2009 (Broadway) March 19, 2010 (Chicago)
Total Performances as Billy: 139.5 [Broadway = 82 (includes 4 partial shows credited @.5)][Chicago = 57.5 (includes 1 partial show credited @.5)]
Born on August 23, 1995, Tommy Batchelor lived in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida when he was Billy. He was the fourth boy to play Billy Elliot on Broadway and was also an originating Billy for the 1st North American tour of the show in Chicago.
Tommy’s early dance inspirations were Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. After seeing films and TV programs featuring them, he began dance training at the age of four, in ballet and jazz, at a studio called The Dance Factory – when his family lived in Minnesota. A year later, Tommy saw the 2001 TV movie starring Gregory Hines called Bojangles. It was about the life of actor/tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, exposing Tommy to tap dancing. He promptly told his family “I want to do that”. So he added tap to his dance repertoire. He moved a couple of times since then, but Tommy kept acquiring dance skills wherever he lived.
Once in Florida, in 2002, Tommy really began to apply himself. First at U.B. Kinsey/Palmview Elementary School of the Arts and later at BAK Middle School of the Arts, he received an academic education, which was liberally sprinkled with choral and theater classes. His dance training also continued in Florida, where he initially attended classes given by Char-Mar Dance Studios right at his elementary school. In 2005, Tommy began taking dance classes at Palm Beach Ballet Center in Lake Park, four days a week, and he continued to be officially enrolled there during his time as Billy, visiting whenever he got some time off in Florida. One of his dance teachers, Stacey Downs, said that Tommy was so eager to dance that she had to order him to stop some days. “He’s like a racehorse, he just goes,” said Downs. “He has a great heart, he’s very emotional, very expressive. And I’ve never met such a quick study.”
All the hard work began to pay off when he earned a starring role in the 2006 Miami City Ballet production of The Nutcracker. While performing in that show, the BETM talent scouts first saw Tommy dance and liked what they saw. They asked Tommy to audition in Orlando in early 2007, which he did. But then a year went by during which he heard nothing from the BETM creative people.
At age 12, Tommy danced in the final rounds of the international ballet competition YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) in New York City. Here’s some video footage of Tommy’s performance in that April, 2008 competition:
Credit: Video by vamproductions
BETM had a scout at that competition who asked Tommy to try out again while there in NY. He did so with five other boys and, after the audition was over, he was offered a role in Billy Elliot the Musical on Broadway. Within a week of that audition, Tommy had a passport and visa for London. He was in London for about three weeks, with David Alvarez, Kiril Kulish and Trent Kowalik, working with the London BETM creative team at Three Mills Studio. While in London, they also got to see the show at the Victoria Palace Theatre and meet their counterpart Billys from the West End.
Like many of the other Billys, Tommy’s family has made numerous sacrifices to support his love of dance and theater. When he got the role on Broadway, Tommy and his mom, Rebecca, moved from Florida into a fourth-floor walk-up in upper Manhattan. They rode subways downtown to the Imperial Theatre. Tommy’s dad, Ed, who was a high school teacher in FL at the time, and his older brother, Eddie, visited NYC when they could. And then, in December, 2009, he and his mom moved again — this time to the Windy City — where he originated the title role and from where he eventually “retired” from the show.
An original Broadway cast member when the show opened in November of 2008, Tommy was at first the understudy for Billy and performed the role of Tall Boy/Posh Boy. Then, in March of 2009, Tommy joined the Broadway rotation as the 4th full-fledged Billy.
A video produced by Broadway.com has Greg Jbara, Tony award winner for his creation of the role of “Dad” in BETM, interviewing Tommy near the beginning of the show on Broadway:
Credit: Video by Broadwaycom
Though he was a full-fledged Broadway Billy for over nine months, because of the notoriety of the three original Broadway Billys (David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish), who were involved in all the pre-Opening Night publicity for the show and then won the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical, while on Broadway Tommy was sometimes the “forgotten Billy” — often not included in photo opportunities and interviews with the others. A rare exception was at the Broadway Bears charity event at which Tommy did appear with his fellow Billys.
But then, on September 10, 2009, three boys who would play Billy Elliot in Chicago were announced (a fourth would be announced later). Tommy was to be the anchor of the group as he was the eldest and was the only one with experience in the role. With all the pre opening Chicago publicity, Tommy finally emerged from the shadow of the originating Broadway Billys and had a spotlight of his own.
Tommy’s last Broadway performance as Billy was on December 11, 2009. After a short holiday break, he went into rehearsals full-time with the rest of the Billy Elliot the Musical Chicago cast. Though the 1st Tour Billys did some training in New York prior to Christmas, most of the cast rehearsal process took place at the Oriental Theater and other locations in Chicago beginning in early January, 2010.
In a March, 2010 interview a week before the show opened in Chicago, for the website the Chicagoist, Tommy talked about the luxury of the larger Oriental Theater compared to what he was used to on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre in NYC, “The theater in New York [City] is so much smaller than this one. The Oriental Theater is a lot bigger, and the backstage is humongous!”
On March 17, 2010, Tommy performed as Billy in the final dress rehearsal at the Oriental Theatre before a house full of invited guests and assorted luminaries. Then, two nights later, he did his first Chicago preview show on March 19, eventually doing six more previews including the final one on the evening of April 10th, the second most of the four Billys. After the show officially opened on April 11th, Tommy did his first “official” show in Chicago at the Wednesday, April 14th matinee.
In mid September, it was announced that Tommy’s final show as Billy would be on Sunday, October 10 at 2:00pm. Since he first auditioned in April of 2008 to his last show, Tommy had been preparing for or playing the role of Billy for 2.5 years and ended up portraying Billy 140 times on stage in New York and in Chicago.
Long before the Broadway show opened, in an interview with his hometown paper in Florida, The Palm Beach Post, Tommy related that Jane Beck, his elementary school dance teacher, once predicted he would one day be on Broadway. “But she thought I would be at least 20,” said Tommy, laughing. So far in his young life, the resourceful teen had consistently beaten goals set by others for him — by plenty. With his talent, it was no stretch to expect that trend would continue.
Life After Billy
- 2010 – After exiting Broadway and the 1st National tour production of BETM in Chicago on October 10, 2010, Tommy, now age 15, returned home to continue dance training at Palm Beach Ballet Center in Florida. He continued his High School training through Florida Virtual School and home schooling with his mother, Rebecca. In December of that year, he reprised his 2006 role of the Prince and Hans-Peter (The Nutcracker) in the Miami City Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. And with that performance, Tommy came full cycle from discovery by the BETM creative staff while dancing in that 2006 Miami City Ballet production of The Nutcracker four Christmases before.
- 2011 – In June, Tommy performed in the Palm Beach Ballet Center recital, which was divided into Ballet, Tap and Modern segments. Here’s a tap number Tommy performed at the recital with partner Jessica Baldinger as choreographed by Donna Morgan:
Credit: Video by Tommy Batchelor
In December of 2011, Tommy participated in the annual Gypsy of the Year competition at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City, benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
- 2012 – On January 8, Tommy danced in the Finale of the final performance of Billy Elliot the Musical on Broadway. In February, Tommy performed with the America’s Got Talent champions Rocky Mountain Silhouettes at the Venetian in Las Vegas. In April of that year he sang the National Anthem for the Ohio Tournament of Champions wrestling tournament in Columbus Ohio: an event he does now annually. May of 2012 saw Tommy performing Volcano, originally choreographed by Stacey Downs, at a benefit at the Jupiter High School in Palm Beach dedicated to his friend Hannah Huntoon who was recovering from a coma caused by a car surfing fall.
Credit: Video by Tommy Batchelor
In June of 2012, Tommy performed as Puss-n-Boots in the Palm Beach Ballet recital, and again performed his dedication to Hannah Huntoon. He also paid tribute to Mr. Gregory Hines in a tap number while dancing on stairs.
2013 – Early in 2013 and at the age of 17, Tommy competed in YAGP with his solo Whirlwind choreographed by Stacey Downs. He reached the finals with this performance.
Credit: Video by Tommy Batchelor
Tommy performed with the Keep Flippin’ show team in the Spring 2013 gymnastics show. He received his High School diploma in June 2013 and subsequently auditioned for and was accepted with a partial scholarship to Ohio State University (OSU) in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program for Dance. His studies included dance and dance film. While at OSU in 2013, Tommy was given the opportunity to perform in Bebe Miller’s piece Hendrix Redux originally choreographed in 1991. Tommy says it’s one of his fondest memories of his educational experience at OSU.
2014 – Tommy got restless for the main stage in March of 2014. He auditioned for and got the opportunity to play the Pinball and was in the ensemble of The Who’s Tommy The Musical at the Short North Stage in Columbus, Ohio. In September, he performed as a dancer and aerialist on the ropes in Sullivant’s Travels at the grand re-opening of Sullivant Hall at OSU.
2015 – In early 2015, Tommy worked as a Production Assistant on the set of the drama No Letting Go by Jonathan Bucari, a multi-award winning film.
2016 – In 2016, Tommy had the opportunity to work with Daniel Roberts, Assistant Professor for the Department of Dance at OSU and perform Totem Ancestor (choreography by Merce Cunningham) as part of the Black Mountain College Exhibit at Wexner Center for the Arts.
Credit: Video by OSU – Department of Dance
2017/2018 – In early 2017, Tommy auditioned for and made it on American Ninja Warrior in Cleveland, Ohio. From August of 2017 to March of 2018, Tommy took a hiatus from OSU to see the world while performing for Norwegian Cruise Line in a dance and circus style format.
2019 – After finishing his hiatus, Tommy returned to OSU to finish his senior year, filming his Senior Dance Project, Subsistence Abuse. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Dance Film in 2019. In December of 2019 Tommy had the privilege to perform as Mother Ginger in the American Swiss Ballet Nutcracker: his first time playing a role on stilts.
- 2020 – In early 2020, Tommy started to again audition, and has stated that he would love to be back on Broadway. In the meantime he’s also a professional videographer and has created an independent production company called Terpsichorean Media Group out of Brooklyn, New York. According to Tommy, his group brings in artists from different fields to collaborate in projects ranging from dance films and music videos to commercials and PSA’s.
Credit: Video by Terpsichorean Media Group
For more information about Tommy Batchelor, visit these websites: