Twelve year old Josh Baker from Rochester has just become the twenty-fifth boy to play the title role in the West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical as the hit show is shortlisted for the BBC Radio 2 Olivier Audience Award, the only category voted for by the public. Voting is now open and will close on 9 March with the awards ceremony on Sunday 13 March 2011. Now in its sixth year at the Victoria Palace Theatre, the critically acclaimed, internationally award-winning musical has been seen by over 6 million people worldwide, including 3 million in the West End. Since its world premiere in 2005 a total of 53 boys, including Jamie Bell who played Billy Elliot in the award-winning film, have now performed the title role worldwide, making Josh Baker the 54th boy to play Billy.
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.
Billy Elliot the Musical features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, and is directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.
As well as the current London production, Billy Elliot the Musical has performed in Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago and Seoul, South Korea, and is currently performing at the Imperial Theater on Broadway and on tour across North America. Currently in previews, Billy Elliot the Musical will officially open at the Canon Theatre, Toronto on March 1st. Productions are also in the works for Japan, Germany and Holland.
Josh Baker said “My name is Josh Baker and I am 12 years old. I live with my mum, dad and little brother Max in the historic town of Rochester. I started acting when I was 5 years old when I appeared in Holby City and A Complete Guide to Parenting with Peter Davison. I started dancing at the age of 7 learning ballet, tap and jazz at Brooke's Academy of Dance. I then went on to join Italia Conti Associate School and last year I joined Stage Theatre Society (STS). I was over the moon when I found out I would be playing the role of Billy and am really excited about my first performance. I love being part of such a great musical - the training has been very hard but also great fun! I can’t wait for all my friends from Stage Theatre School to come and see me performing in the West End.”
Josh Baker joins Dean Charles-Chapman (13 years old from Romford, Essex), Scott McKenzie (13 years old from Dumbarton, Scotland) and Rhys Yeomans (13 years old from Oldham, Lancashire) who alternate the role of Billy; Reece Barrett (12 years old from Exeter), Connor Kelly (12 years old from Scunthorpe), Connor Lawson (12 years old from Shotton, County Durham) and Joe Massey (11 years old from South Wirrell) who alternate the role of Billy’s best friend Michael; Francesca Mango (11 years old from Northumberland), Emily Smith (11 years old from County Durham) and Emily Williams (9 years old East Wingate, County Durham) who alternate the role of Debbie. They perform alongside Genevieve Lemon (Mrs. Wilkinson), Martin Marquez (Dad), Tom Lorcan (Tony), Diane Langton (Grandma), Chris McGlade (George), Kay Milbourne (Dead Mum), Kevin Patricks (Mr. Braithwaite),
Barnaby Meredith (Older Billy) and ensemble members Ashley Andrews, David Bardsley, Romy Baskerville, Paul Basleigh, Alan Bradshaw, Spencer Cartwright, Caroline Deverill, Helen French, Tim Funnell, Sergio Giacomelli, Shaun Henson, Stevie Hutchinson, Stuart Ramsay, Derek Richards and Russell Wilcox and swings Craig Armstrong, Dawn Buckland, Lucinda Collins, Kieran Jae and Mike Scott.
Billy Elliot the Musical is presented in London by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions in association with Tiger Aspect and is based on the Universal Pictures/ Studio Canal film.