Theatre / Meet the Cast
We're only a few months out from Billy Elliot The Musical returning to Australian stages – landing in Sydney this October – so what better time to meet the incredible cast ready to bring the much-loved story to life.
Celebrating ten years since its spectacular debut Australian tour, Billy Elliot is set to arrive in Sydney this October for a strictly limited season. Meet the cast ready to bring the show to life.
The story: The life of 11-year-old Billy Elliot, a coal miner’s son in Northern England, is forever changed when he stumbles upon a ballet class during his weekly boxing lesson. Before long, he finds himself in dance, demonstrating the kind of raw talent seldom seen by the class’ instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson. Her zest for teaching is revived when she sees Billy’s potential. And so the adventure truly begins.
Based on Stephen Daldry’s 2001 film, the musical is the brainchild of one Elton John who had to create a stage adaptation, providing a brilliant soundtrack that drives the show. Since opening it has played in London, Broadway, Australia, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Japan and Israel.
The main role of Billy Elliot will be played by four boys – Omar Abiad, Wade Neilsen and Jamie Rogers, all 12 years old, along with 10-year-old River Mardesic. Chosen from over 600 auditionees, the boys come from right around the country – Abiad is from Brisbane, Neilsen from Newcastle, Rogers from Canberra and Mardesic from Melbourne. What makes their casting even more special is the fact that they are all making their professional debuts, in a role that has been described as one of the most demanding in theatre.
As one of Australia’s most accomplished performers, an internationally renowned choreographer and an award-winning creative director, Kelley Abbey needs no introduction. Beginning her career in the long-running TV series E Street, she went on to star on stage in productions including Sweet Charity, Grease the Arena Spectacular and Fame the Musical. She has also won a Helpmann Award for her choreography in The Boy from Oz, as well as Greenroom, Mo, and Variety Heart awards for her performances. In the role of choreographer and director she has worked across film, television, and stage including Fame The Musical, In Her Skin, Happy Feet, So You Think You Can Dance, X Factorand The Voice.
Justin Smith will be taking over the role of Billy’s Dad. No stranger to Billy Elliot The Musical, Justin played Billy’s older brother Tony. An acclaimed theatre and screen actor in his own right, his musical credits also include Jesus Christ Superstar and Rent. His television credits include Foxtel’s Deadline Gallipoli, Underbelly: Badness, and Bastard Boys (nominated for an AFI Award for Best Supporting Actor). While his feature film credits include Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales and Sleeping Beauty. This year, he will reprise his role in Foxtel’s Secret City and in award-winning ABC comedy The Letdown.
Billy’s hot-headed brother Tony will be played by Drew Livingston. Drew toured Australia in the National Theatre’s War Horse, while his other theatre credits include Bell Shakespeare’s Henry V, Sport for Jove’s Cyrano de Bergerac and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Ensemble Theatre’s Taking Steps. On television, he has appeared in Channel 9’s Tricky Business. Drew is also an accomplished musician and composer.
Vivien Davies will play Billy’s eccentric Grandma. Her extensive theatre career in Australia has lasted more than four decades. In 1972, her first acting role was with Theatre 62 in Adelaide playing the role of Tilly in Man in the Moon Marigolds. She went on to join the Melbourne Theatre Company, where she has been a regular, performing in shows including A Dolls house, The Matchmaker, and Macbeth. Her musical theatre credits include Les Misérables, The Boy from Oz, and Menopause the Musical.
The town’s boxing coach will be played by award-winning actor Robert Grubb. As well as being a regular with State Theatre Company South Australia, Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company, he has also starred on television and in film. On stage, his credits include Madame Butterfly, MAMMA MIA!, Shane Warne: The Musical, and Strictly Ballroom The Musical. He was awarded the Helpmann Award for his performance in We Will Rock You, as well as Helpmann Nominations for his roles in My Fair Lady and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Robert’s film and television credits include Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Phar Lap, Gallipoli, Seachange, and Neighbours.
Mr Braithwaite will be played by Dean Vince, Billy’s Mum by Danielle Everett, and Older Billy by Aaron Smyth. Michael will be played by Mason Kidd, Hamish Monger, Oscar Mulcahy, and James Sonnemann, while Debbie will be played by Chanel Charles, Gabrielle Daggar, and Ella Tebbutt.
Billy Elliot The Musical will come to Sydney Lyric from Thursday 10 October before heading to Melbourne’s Regent Theatre from March 2020. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.com.au.