Teenage thespian Sam O’Rourke is hoping to land a starring role in next year’s Billy Elliot musical in Stoke-on-Trent to help catapult him to the West End, the Sentinel has reported.
The 16-year-old, from Newcastle, was one of 140 hopefuls, aged 10 to 19, at Newcastle Community High School earlier this month to audition for roles in one of 2010’s biggest shows.
Youngsters were put through their paces by a professional choreographer and studied by judges from Staffordshire-based Stage Productions, which is producing a youth version of the popular West End show at the Regent Theatre in Hanley in July.
A cast of about 40 will be picked from the group over the next fortnight, and Sam is hoping to land a major role to kick-start his stage career.
He said: “Unfortunately, I think I’m a little bit too old to try out for Billy himself, but I’d like to be cast in the role of Billy’s older brother.
“I’ve been doing drama since I was four and this is something I really want to do as a career.
“Ultimately I’m hoping I can make it to the West End and this could be a big break.”
Sam, who is studying drama at the Bradwell Academy of Performing Arts, revealed he once came desperately close to playing Billy in the original show.
He said: “When I was 10 I made it through to the final eight in auditions to play Billy Elliot in the West End version.
“I also met the Queen at the big opening of the Regent. I was dressed as Oliver Twist.
“My first show was called Be Our Guest when I was four.
“My mum was a dance teacher so she got me into that, and it’s just been something I’ve always enjoyed.
“I just came along to do my best and I’ll be ecstatic if I manage to get a part in the show.”
The youngster chosen to star as Billy himself will win a scholarship at a Stagecoach dance school and Jonathan Cliffe, show producer, said high standards are essential.
He said: “We are looking for all-round ability, in singing, dancing and acting.
“It is a musical, but Billy Elliot is a personal story, so the acting must be strong too.
“We’re also going to meet the West End production team next week because they’re very keen to know how we’re doing. It’s one of the biggest shows we’ve done.
“Billy himself will need to have something really individual about him.”
Choreographer Laura Capewell said: “I’ve been taking them through some contemporary ballet and then on to some tap.
“They all come in together and we teach them from scratch.
“We’re looking for a spark and a stage presence.”
North Staffordshire actors have a strong pedigree in Billy Elliot adaptations after Clayton actor Leon Cooke played the boy dancer for 20 months in the West End’s Victoria Palace.