Billy Elliot stars hoping to live the West End dream

Newbridge Junior School Picture: Maria Bujor

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A TALENTED group of Portsmouth students are giving ballet hero Billy Elliot a run for his money as they eye up a West End prize.

A group of 40 youngsters from Miltoncross School have been selected by the producers of Billy Elliot the Musical to stage their own production at Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal. They are the only group in the whole city to win this accolade – and are one big step closer to getting a West End audience.

From left: Lauren Haskett, Joseph Vaughan and Sophie Pearce, pupils from Milton Cross School, Milton Portsmouth, who star in Billy Elliot at The New Thaetre Royal, Portsmouth.    ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (110355-428)

From left: Lauren Haskett, Joseph Vaughan and Sophie Pearce, pupils from Milton Cross School, Milton Portsmouth, who star in Billy Elliot at The New Thaetre Royal, Portsmouth. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (110355-428)

In the next stage of the competition, the group will submit a DVD of their production in the hope of winning a place at the national finals, where they would perform live to win the chance to stage a performance in London.

Joseph Vaughan, 13, who is playing the lead role, started ballet aged five and wants to be a professional dancer.

He said: ‘I’ve never played Billy before but the experience is emotional as I see a lot of myself in him. I saw Billy Elliot the Musical when I was eight and since then I’ve always dreamt of being him.

‘The role is quite challenging as it involves a lot of ballet, tap and contemporary dance, as well as singing and acting. We’ve all worked so hard, it’s an amazing opportunity. I hope we get to the West End.’

Lauren Haskett, 14, who plays Billy’s dance teacher, Mrs Wilkinson, admitted the nerves were kicking in.

She said: ‘I’m excited about the performance but quite nervous. I love my role – Mrs Wilkinson is quite loud and bossy which is fun to do on stage, even though I’m naturally a lot quieter.’

Arabella Brodrick, drama teacher, said: ‘I am so proud of the students, they have worked incredibly hard and they are going to put on an amazing show. When you think the majority hadn’t even gone anywhere near a tutu before we started rehearsals in November, and now they are dancing on stage with agility and confidence – it’s pretty impressive. I hope we win the West End prize. The boys and girls deserve it.’

The musical, based on the hit film, tells how a working class boy from a mining town becomes a ballet success.

Tickets to the show on Friday at 7.30pm and Saturday at 2pm and 7.30pm at the New Theatre Royal, cost £12 for adults (£8 conc) and can be bought at the box office on (023) 9264 9000.