Quite a while ago I reported that a publication had it on rumor that on of the boys who play “Billy” in Billy Elliot would be leaving the cast, and I tried to figure out who that might be. However, it’s taken a very long time for one of them to actually report that he will take his last curtain call. (So, I guess that magazine didn’t have their information quite right…which was actually pointed out to me by a helpful blog reader.)
On August 28, however, Playbill.com reported that Tony Award winner Kiril Kulish, one of the three young boys who created the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical here in the U.S., will play his final performance at the Imperial Theatre Oct. 3 at 8 PM. Alex Ko will then joins the cast of rotating Billys the week of Oct. 5.
This will be Alex Ko’s Broadway debut. I was amazed to learn, however, that he was the youngest student admitted to the University of Iowa Dance Department at age 12 and has been guided by ballet masters Eloy Barragán and George de la Peña. (Julian had de la Peña as an acting teacher at American Ballet Theatre this summer, and he appears in the first video in my last post about Patrick Swazye.)
We loved Kiril’s performance, although we were sorry not to see David Alvarez. That said, his performance was flawless all the way around. I actually spoke to him briefly after the show and asked him about an interview. He directed me to the PR department, like a good little boy. Maybe now I can actually get him to talk to me! (I did not pursue the PR department at the time; I figured it would be too difficult. It might be less difficult now.)
My son, Julian, danced a few times this summer at American Ballet Theatre with David, another “Billy,” who claimed he was already too tall for the roll. However, he seems to still be taking the stage…at least for the time being. So, I wonder what the criteria are for leaving the show, and who decides — the boys or the director?
Tony-nominee David Bologna, who plays “Michael, will soon leave the cast as well, playing his final performance Sept. 27. Keean Johnson, previously an understudy in the role, will join the rotation in the role of Michael with Trevor Braun. We saw both David and Trevor, who were both awesome. Really, they were great.
I’m glad Julian and I saw the show twice while we were in New York with the original cast, although we only saw Kirul Kulish and the understudy, Tommy Batchelor, in the role of “Billy.” We would have loved to see Alvarez, since Julian had met him and taken class with him. We also wouldn’t have minded seeing Trent Kowalik. We wondered if Tommy had actually moved up from being an understudy; he’s no longer listed as an understudy. He looked like more of a tapper than a ballet dancer to us.
Haydn Gwynne, who originated the role of Mrs. Wilkinson in the U.K. and Broadway productions of Billy Elliot, is also ending her New York run Oct. 4. She was superb! Gwynne will be followed by Canadian stage actress Kate Hennig, who begins performances on Broadway Oct. 6.