Billy Elliot comes to Malvern Theatres

First published in What's On Bromsgrove Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @floradruryWN #worcsnews

BEING one of the select few allowed to produce an amateur version of a hit West End musical is stressful.

Being just 22 years old and in charge of 53 young dancers possibly moves the bar from “stressful” to “mindblowing”.

This is the challenge which Simon Hundley is tackling currently after his bid to stage Billy Elliott at Malvern Theatres was successful - one of just 50 out of 300 applications to the Billy Youth Theatre programme that was.

“I’m not sure what made them select me,” he said. “I had to write a statement on behalf of my group, Jago Performers, as to why we could stage Billy Elliott, as well as put details of the company's website.

“But I think it might be because we have quite a diverse range of people in the group that they liked us.

“We have got a lot of boys in the group as well, which I think is as a result of me being a male dance teacher.”

But, while the Jago Performers make up the majority of the dancers, Hundley is not doing it alone: knowing what a big opportunity for the entire county this was, he bought in Harlequin Stage School, Tremor Theatre Company, Mallan Musical Theatre Company and J.A.M. Productions to help and be part of what promises to be the highlight in many of the dancers young lives.

“Billy Elliott might not come here again for a long time,” he explained. “So, rather than me just doing it alone, I wanted to get more people involved. It is a fantastic opportunity.”

The lead role is to be played by 12-year-old Tobias Dadge, a Jago dancer who has been working “really hard” to make sure he puts on the performance of his life when the curtain goes up.

But Malvern may not be the biggest performance he, or the group, do this year.

Hundley said: ‘‘The BYT programme means that we can stage our own version of the show, but there is the added possibility of being invited to perform at a West End gala.

"We have already been selected to do five numbers at the regional showcase.

‘‘We had to send some video clips of our rehearsals as part of the criteria and the London producers are busy analysing the se to choose the strongest groups to join one of the extra celebration shows."

Billy Elliot The Musical is on stage at the Forum on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 21-23, at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2pm.

Tickets at £14 each from Malvern Theatre box office on 01684 892277, or at www.malvern-theatres.co.uk.

A package offer means groups of 10 or more pay £10 a ticket and get one free for every 10 purchased.

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