Friday, January 25, 2013

Billy Elliot, the Musical: Boys, Brits, ballet and Elton John tunes

Posted by on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 1:46 PM

THE GLOVES ARE OFF: Billy Elliot star Drew Minard portrays a boy who goes from boxing to ballet.
  • PUBLICITY PHOTO
  • THE GLOVES ARE OFF: Billy Elliot star Drew Minard portrays a boy who goes from boxing to ballet.
Four Billies, three show times and one national tour for a 10-time 2009 Tony award-winning show — it seems like a lot of math to handle for the average 12-year-old, but for Drew Minard — one of the four Billy Elliots on tour in the Broadway touring production of Billy Elliot, the Musical — those numbers are beyond wonderful.

Minard, who hails from a small town in Iowa, has danced his way into child-stardom since the age of 3.

“At first I wanted to do hip-hop actually and then I went to a workshop and they told me that I need to take more ballet,” said Minard. “I never thought that I’d grow up to want to be a ballet dancer but it just went that way and now I love theater.”

Fast-forward a couple of years when Minard flew to an audition in New York City and landed the role. His only concern remains outgrowing the part — not metaphorically, but physically — as he stands just two inches under the 5-foot Billy limit.

The story’s focus is on tween-aged Billy Elliot living in County Durham, England, during the 1984 coal miners’ strike and is set to music written by Elton John. Billy’s single-parent of a father (Rich Hebert) insists he take a boxing class, but after one of his lessons, Billy finds his way into a ballet class, run by Mrs. Wilkinson, played by (Janet Dickenson).

As main protagonist Billy (Minard) finds his way out of a boxing ring and into a ballet class, he faces bullying and discrimination from his peers and his family — a concept Minard can relate to.

“At school sometimes I would get picked on a little bit,” said Minard. “But my family definitely does support me so that’s a little different for Billy.”

The tour will continue until April 30, when it makes it’s final stop in San Diego, but it twirls into Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall the last week of January.

Billy Elliot’s resident director, Steven Minning, says he is thrilled to be able to bring such up and coming talent on a national tour, both because of, and in spite of their age.

“These are fresh, eager, young actors. And while they probably haven’t acted in major roles like this they do come with a sense of professionalism.”

In regards to the quickly-selling opening night of the three-show stay at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Minning aims to improve on previous showings.

“Every different location means an opportunity to make it better. We never want to have the same show twice,” said Minning.

Minning also included that the cast wants to make the audience leave feeling something good with each performance they give.

“I think we all agreed that we want the show to move people in a good way,” said Minning. “I want people to be glad they’re alive and feel like they can do whatever they aspire to do in the world. “

Billy Elliot, the Musical can be seen at Ruth Eckerd Hall at 8 p.m. on Tues., Jan. 29, and 2 and 8 p.m. Wed., Jan. 30. Tickets can be purchased at www.rutheckerdhall.com.

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