Note: Trent’s final performance as Billy on Broadway was March 7, 2010
Debuts: December 17, 2007 (London) October 8, 2008 (Broadway)
Total Performances as Billy: 222.5 (London = 44.5 – includes 3 partial shows credited @ .5 ea) (From Broadway = 178 – includes 4 partial shows credited @.5 ea)]
Trent Kowalik is one of three boys who originated the role of Billy on Broadway (along with Kiril Kulish and David Alvarez). Trent was the first of three boys who have played the role both in the West End and on Broadway (the others being Tanner Pflueger and Tade Biesinger). Born on February 22, 1995, Trent is a native of Wantagh, Long Island, New York.
Trent’s path to playing Billy was in some ways similar to, but also very different from, that of the other boys who have played the role. Like most of the others, Trent started dance at an early age – three years old. He learned tap and ballet and, later, jazz and hip-hop. But at age four, he began instruction in Irish step dancing at the Inishfree School of Irish Dance. By age six he was competing at the highest level and by age 13 he was a five-time undefeated North American Champion and a World Champion – the youngest American to ever win the World Championship.
Casting agents for BETM had their eye on Kowalik since 2005, when they first inquired with Inishfree about boys who might one day fill Billy’s agile shoes. He had auditions in New York in November, 2005 and November, 2006. Then in June of 2007, when the nationwide search for boys to play Billy on Broadway narrowed down to 15 boys, Trent was among that group:
But on the way to becoming a Broadway Billy, a funny thing happened. Though he was told in July of 2007 that he would be on Broadway, Trent was asked to play Billy in the West End of London until the NY rehearsals began in June of 2008. He debuted in London 17-Dec-2007, at 12-years-old, and played the role at the Victoria Palace Theatre until a final performance on 7-Jun-2008. The official announcement to the press that he would be one of three boys who would originate the role of Billy on Broadway had come on 22-Apr-2008.
After spending the summer and early Fall of 2008 rehearsing with the Broadway cast, Trent portrayed Billy on the Imperial Theatre stage for the first time during previews of the show on October 8, 2008. He then had the honor of Being Billy on the official Opening Night of the show on November 13, 2008. Here’s the BETM video called “We Are Billy Elliot” featuring Trent:
Credit: Video by BillyElliotBroadway
The three originating Broadway Billys (Trent, Kiril Kulish and David Alvarez) went on to win an historic joint Tony for Best Actor in a Musical on 7-Jun-2009. On that night , Trent performed Angry Dance from the musical, before a Radio City Music Hall crowd filled with luminaries from the entertainment business and a national TV audience.
Credit: Video by YlimeHtenay
Then, over two years since he first performed as Billy at the Victoria Palace Theater, with his time spent in the role in London and on Broadway, Trent again made history. He eclipsed both the record for an actor with the most performances as Billy (220) — a record that was held by former London Billy, Leon Cooke — and the record for longest chronological time in the role of Billy Elliot, which had been held by Layton Williams. Layton was Trent’s roommate when they both starred as Billy in the West End and lived in the “Billy House” together and has gone on to star in several British TV series since his Billy days.
Trent played Billy for the 227th and final time on Sunday, 7-Mar-2010 at the 7:30pm performance. It was over four years since he began his quest to be Billy Elliot and, with that performance, the last of the Tony Award winning actors who originated the role of Billy on Broadway closed out an era in Billy Elliot the Musical history.
As his time as Billy drew to a close, there were several tributes made to all the hard work Trent put in to attain his dream of being Billy Elliot. Here are a couple of the best ones:
Credit: Video by DDEB12
Credit: Video by ttoolman80
He said in interviews given near the end of his time as Billy that he misses the traditional school environment. So it was no surprise that he returned to Wantagh for school and enrolled at ABT to continue his dance training. With his secondary education complete, Trent began a college career at Princeton University, with a major in Philosophy. But he’s also tending to his dance education, working to earn a certificate in Dance (which is a bit more intense than just earning a Minor in it).
One thing is for sure, with his talent it will not be surprising to see Trent back on Broadway someday soon.
For more information about Trent Kowalik visit:
Trent Kowalik, Billy Elliot the Forum
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