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'Finding Billy' Behind the Scenes Look at BILLY ELLIOT to Air Dec. 1 on PBS

Tune in to Thirteen (WNET/Ch. 13) on Monday, December 1st at 8pm for the world premiere of "Finding Billy," a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the nationwide search for the three actors who play the lead role in Billy Elliot the Musical on Broadway. During the broadcast, stars David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, Kiril Kulish and Carole Shelley will be present in the Thirteen studio to talk about the show.

"Finding Billy" offers viewers an exclusive look at how David, Trent and Kiril were chosen to play Billy Elliot after a year-long national talent search that drew thousands of hopefuls from all over the country. Auditions were held in cities across the country and all three of the Broadway Billy, along with twelve other finalists, underwent a grueling ten day callback last summer in New York City during which director Stephen Daldry and choreographer Peter Darling worked with them extensively.

The role of Billy Elliot is unlike any other in the history of musical theatre, requiring a remarkable range of talents: ballet, tap, street dance, singing, acting, dialect and gymnastics. Further, the role is the largest child's role in musical theatre and one of the largest roles of any age. The young actor playing it is on-stage for 2 ½ hours performing six musical numbers; it is the role's sheer size and the stamina required that necessitates this unique triple-casting.

"Finding Billy" airs locally on Thirteen (WNET/Ch. 13) in the tri-state area.


New York public media company WNET.ORG is a pioneering provider of television and web content. The parent of Thirteen, WLIW21 and Creative News Group, WNET.ORG brings such acclaimed broadcast series and websites as Worldfocus, Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Charlie Rose, Wide Angle, Secrets of the Dead, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, Visions, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack,Wild Chronicles, Miffy and Friends, and Cyberchase to national and international audiences. Through its wide range of channels and platforms, WNET.ORG serves the entire New York City metro area with unique local productions, broadcasts and innovative educational and cultural projects. In all that it does, WNET.ORG pursues a single, overarching goal - to create media experiences of lasting significance for New York, America and the world.

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The multi-award winning Billy Elliot the Musical opened to rave reviews at Broadway's Imperial Theatre (240 W 45th St) Thursday, November 13th. Featuring music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, directed by Stephen Daldry and choreographed by Peter Darling, Billy Elliot the Musical began previews Wednesday, October 1st. The show is presented by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions in association with Weinstein Live Entertainment, based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times says that Billy Elliot "Sends audiences into a mass swoon!" Time Out says it's "The most electric and passionate show in years." The Daily News calls Billy "So exhilarating that you feel like leaping!" The New York Post says Billy Elliot is "The best show you will ever see!" Liz Smith calls the show "Absolutely awesome," The New York Observer raves that Billy is "The best thing to happen to Broadway in a long while," and WOR's Dave Richardson cheers, "All I can say is WOW!"


Billy Elliot the Musical is the funny, heartwarming tale of a young boy with a dream, and a celebration of his triumph against the odds. Set against the historic British miners' strike of the 1980s, the story follows Billy's journey as a boy in a small mining town who, after stumbling across a ballet class while on his way to a boxing lesson, realizes that his future lay not in the boxing ring but on stage as a dancer.

Haydn Gwynne, who created the role of dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson in the show's original London cast, makes her Broadway debut recreating her Olivier Award-nominated performance; Gregory Jbara plays Dad; Tony winner Carole Shelley plays Grandma; and Santino Fontana plays Tony. Hadyn Gwynne is appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association.

Featured in the cast are David Bologna and Frank Dolce alternating in the role of Billy's friend Michael, Stephen Hanna as Older Billy, Joel Hatch as George, Leah Hocking as Mum, Thommie Retter as Mr. Braithwaite and Erin Whyland as Debbie.

The original Broadway company also includes Juliette Allen Angelo, Tommy Batchelor, Kevin Bernard, Grady McLeod Bowman, Heather Ann Burns, Maria Connelly, Samantha Czulada, Kyle DesChamps, Eboni Edwards,

Brianna Fragomeni, Greg Graham, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Eric Gunhus, Meg Guzulescu, Izzy Hanson-Johnston, Keean Johnson, Aaron Kaburick, Donnie Kehr, Cara Kjellman, Kara Klein, David Koch, Jeff Kready,

Stephanie Kurtzuba, David Larsen, Caroline London, Merle Louise, Marina Micalizzi, Mitchell Michaliszyn, Matthew Mindler, Tessa Netting, Daniel Oreskes, Jayne Paterson, Liz Pearce, Corrieanne Stein, Jamie Torcellini, Grant Turner and Casey Whyland.

Billy Elliot the Musical is produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jon Finn and Sally Greene. Angela Morrison and David Furnish are Executive Producers. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.

For tickets and information, please visit

Photo by Walter McBride

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