West End Hit Billy Elliot The Musical Adds Ruthi Henshall To Cast
| By London Theatre Direct
Ruthie Henshall is to join the cast of Billy Elliot the Musical. The Olivier Award-winning actress will play Billy's dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson. Her first performance will be 12 May 2014, nine years to the day since Billy Elliot the Musical officially opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London.
Ruthie Henshall has performed in many iconic roles in musicals both in the West End and on Broadway including Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart in Chicago, Marion Halcome in The Woman in White, the title roles in Peggy Sue Got Married and Marguerite, Fantine in Les Misérables, Nancy in Oliver, Polly Baker in Crazy For You, Jemima in Cats and Ellen in Miss Saigon as well as Amalia in She Loves Me for which she won the Best Actress in a Musical Olivier award. She was last on stage in Thea Sharrock’s production of Blithe Spirit at the Apollo Theatre. As a recording artist, she has featured on numerous cast recordings, compilation albums and solo albums including Pilgrim, The Ruthie Henshall Album, Love is Here to Stay and I’ve Loved These Days. Her television credits include The Case, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sound of Musicals, Law and Order, The Mysteries of 71st Street. Henshall was a judge on ITV’s Dancing on Ice.
Also joining the cast in May is Chris Grahamson who will play Billy’s brother Tony and Barnaby Meredith returns to play Older Billy. Ann Emery will continue to play Grandma, a role she created on stage when the show premiered in 2005, and Deka Walmsley will continue as Billy’s dad.
The internationally celebrated show which has now been seen by over 9.5 million people worldwide is currently booking to 16 May 2015 and features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall. Stephen Daldry directs with choreography by Peter Darling.
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.
From 12 May 2014, the cast comprises Ruthie Henshall (Mrs Wilkinson), Deka Walmsley (Dad), Chris Grahamson (Tony), Ann Emery (Grandma), Howard Crossley (George) and Barnaby Meredith (Older Billy). They are joined by Claudia Bradley and David Muscat in their new roles as Dead Mum and Mr. Braithwaite respectively. Ensemble members are Craig Armstrong, David Bardsley, Paul Basleigh, Spencer Cartwright, Lucinda Collins, Gillian Elisa, Lee Hoy, Ruri James, Chris Jenkins, Charlie Martin, Alan Mehdizadeh, Steve Paget, Ben Redfern, Charlotte Riby, Mark John Richardson, Mike Scott, Phil Snowden, Wendy Somerville, Spencer Stafford and David Stoller.
The role of Billy is alternated by Elliott Hanna (10 years old from Liverpool), Bradley Perret (11 years old from Juan les Pins, France), Redmand Rance (13 years old from Fareham, Hampshire) and Mitchell Tobin (13 years old from Florida, USA). Zach Atkinson (12 years old from Manchester), Zak Baker (13 years old from St Albans) and Freddie Butterfield (11 years old from West Yorkshire) play the role of Billy’s best friend Michael. Dayna Dixon (11 years old from Newcastle upon Tyne), Demi Lee (10 years old from Middlesbrough) and Millie Thornton (11 years old from Sunderland) play Debbie.
Productions of Billy Elliot the Musical have been staged on Broadway, as well as in Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago, Toronto and Seoul, South Korea. The North American touring production, which began in 2010, last year finished its spectacular run with a three week August engagement in São Paulo, Brazil, the first time Billy Elliot has played in South America. Further international productions are planned including Holland and Germany.