Locals on stage in timeless play

Isabel Hawthorne is making her professional debut in Billy Elliot the Musical.

By Danielle Kutchel

The story of a mining town boy who just wanted to dance captured hearts around the world when it debuted on cinema screens, and now the iconic story Billy Elliot is gracing theatre stages around the country.

This time, two locals are part of the ensemble cast that has so far performed in Billy Elliot the Musical in Adelaide and Sydney.

Beaconsfield resident Isabel Hawthorne plays one of the ballet girls in Billy’s class who eventually warms up to the miner’s son.

Trained at Cathy-Lea Dance Works, Ms Hawthorne is making her professional debut in Billy Elliot.

“It’s really exciting, I auditioned back in September 2018 and had a call back a month later and was told I had the role,” she said.

She was required to keep the role a secret until rehearsals began, and is excited to now perform it on home turf in front of her friends and family.

The 20-year-old said she could empathise with Billy.

“Dancing makes you feel so free,” she said.

“It’s like what Billy says in the show, it feels like electricity.

“I think his love of dancing and his drive to do something he loves so much is something a lot of people can relate to.”

She added that the story of a community coming together to lift someone up would also resonate with audiences following the horror bushfire season and the subsequent outpouring of community support.

Narre Warren dancer Darren Tyler is also part of the ensemble cast and said the group had become like a family.

Mr Tyler has been performing on stage for several decades and said he had been fortunate to have the support of his parents in his theatre journey.

He too has found parallels with Billy’s journey in his own life.

“Back when I was starting out it was about the same time as what Billy Elliot is set in, and it wasn’t as acceptable for males to dance as it is now,” he said.

“Luckily, I never had any flack about dancing.”

He said he admired the hard work of the younger crew members, especially after watching them balance their theatre work with tutoring to keep up at school.

“They’re working so hard,” he said.

“The boys that play Billy are so wonderful, so talented. It’s amazing to watch them grow into the role and the show is really on their shoulders.”

Like Ms Hawthorne, Mr Tyler can’t wait to get on stage in Melbourne this week.

“I think the story is still relevant and it’s not just Billy’s story,” he said.

“Audiences will be surprised at how relevant the story is today and how much talent we’ve got in our youth.”

Billy Elliot the Musical opens in Melbourne on February 20 at the Regent Theatre. For more details visit www.billyelliotthemusical.com.au

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