Today, 22 February 2012, 13 year old Harris Beattie from Aberdeen, Scotland and 9 year old Dayna Dixon from Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne will join the West End cast of Billy Elliot the Musical which celebrates 7 years in at the Victoria Palace Theatre in May. Harris will become the twenty-ninth boy to play the title role in the West End and the 64th boy to play the role worldwide, including Jamie Bell who played Billy Elliot in the award-winning film. He is joined by Dayna who plays Debbie, dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson's daughter.
Harris will alternate the role of Billy with Kaine Ward (13 years old from Hertfordshire), Ryan Collinson (13 years old from Southport) and Adam Vesperman (13 years old from Seattle, Washington, USA) and Dayna will alternate the role of Debbie with Francesca Mango (12 years old from Northumberland) and Macy Stasiak (9 years old from Darlington).
Based on the Oscar nominated film, Billy Elliot the Musical is an inspirational story of one boy's dream to realise his ambitions against the odds. Set in the North East of England against the background of the historic 1984/85 miners' strike, Billy pursues his passion for dance in secret to avoid disapproval of his struggling family.
Billy Elliot the Musical features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, is directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.
Harris Beattie said: "I am 13 year old Harris Beattie from Aberdeen in Scotland. I have one sister and am the youngest of three brothers. I live with my Auntie Debbie, Uncle Keith and cousin Chrissy and two beautiful, but dopey, labradoodles called Carrie and Cormac. I started ballet when I was 7 years old and I now dance at Danscentre in Aberdeen. My teachers at Danscentre have been brilliant, especially Karen Berry who has also been a fantastic friend to me. Since joining Billy Elliot I have made some great new friends, all of whom have helped to make rehearsals such an exciting and fun experience. I would like to dedicate my first performance to my Auntie Debbie and Uncle Keith, they have done so much for me, I can't thank them enough."
Dayna Dixon said: "I am 9 year old Dayna Dixon from Newcastle and live with my mum Sandra and my dad Michael. I started dancing when I was 18 months old and I have been lucky enough to have performed in lots of shows. I love music and I play lots of musical instruments and am a member of my school rock band. I was determined to audition for the part of Debbie after seeing one of the groups from the Billy Youth Theatre perform their version of the show. I was 8 years old when I had my first audition which was followed by 3 months of dance training with my brilliant teacher Carly Woodhouse. I am so excited to be playing the part of Debbie in Billy Elliot and I would like to thank all of my teachers who have helped and inspired me on my journey. I would also like to thank the Billy Elliot company for believing in me and giving me this amazing opportunity, and my family and friends for supporting me. I dedicate my performances to them all."
From 20 February the West End cast comprises Harris Beattie (13 years old from Aberdeen, Scotland), Kaine Ward (13 years old from Hertfordshire), Ryan Collinson (13 years old from Southport) and Adam Vesperman (13 years old from Seattle, Washington, USA) who alternate the role of Billy. Reece Barrett (13 years old from Exeter), Connor Kelly (13 years old from Scunthorpe), Connor Lawson (13 years old from Shotton, County Durham) and Joe Massey (12 years old from South Wirrell) who alternate the role of Billy's best friend Michael; Dayna Dixon (9 years old from Newcastle upon Tyne), Francesca Mango (12 years old from Northumberland) and Macy Stasiak (9 years old from Darlington), who alternate the role of Debbie.