Leon Cooke Cast as New Billy Elliot in London Hit

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Beginning on September 19th, Leon Cooke will pirouette around the stage of London's Victoria Palace as one of the young actors playing the title role in Billy Elliot.

One of the biggest hits on the West End (it earned unanimous raves from the British press), Billy Elliot is the musical version of the hit 2000 film about a boy who wishes to go against the grain and become a ballet dancer.  Living in a small industrustial English town, his father and brother (who are embroiled in a miner's strike) disapprove of his plans but ballet teacher Mrs. Wilkinson secretly encourages the boy.  As with the movie, Stephen Daldry (An Inspector Calls, the film The Hours) is the director, and the show, which is produced by Working Title and Old Vic Productions, features a book by Lee Hall and music and lyrics by Elton John (The Lion King, Aida).

The fourteen year-old Cooke emerged from the Billy Elliot Academy.  Established specifically for the production, it is a training grounds for young performers who want to be cast in the musical.  Cooke has had prior performing experience in amateur productions of Les Miserables and Oliver!  He stated that his dream "is to be as good as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Angela Corella from American Ballet Theatre...When my sister Zena took me for the first audition in Manchester I had no idea that I would get through." 

Liam Mower and George Maguire continue in the show and alternate as Billy.  In addition to Cooke, Joey Philips has been cast as the new actor to play Billy's cross-dressing friend Michael, and there will be new ballet girls in the cast as well.  Haydn Gwynne plays Mrs. Wilkinson, while Tim Healy continues as Dad and Ann Emery plays Grandma.

Call (0)870 895 5577 or visit www.billyelliotthemusical.com for more information.

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