When a trio of young actors jointly became the youngest ever winners of a Best Actor in a Musical Laurence Olivier Award in 2006 (beating fellow nominees Ewan McGregor and Douglas Hodge in the process), the prestige of being a Billy Elliot was secured. Since then, the musical at the Victoria Palace has churned out a succession of all-dancing Billys who follow in the lightning-quick footsteps of their famous forebears.
The latest young actor-dancer to take up the mantle is 13-year-old New Yorker Corey Snide, who had his first performance as Billy last month and now heads the London cast on a regular basis, alternating in the role with his band of Billy brothers.
The talented Snide began dancing at the age of three and since then has racked up numerous dancing competitions all over the US, collecting a few awards along the way. Leaving his family – and dog Sheeba – behind in Albany, New York, Snide came to London in March to begin training as Billy Elliot. He spoke to Caroline Bishop about the experience…
How did you get involved with Billy Elliot The Musical?
CS: Well I originally auditioned for the New York production but because of age and height, they asked if I could come over to London. I was a little nervous at first, it seemed so far away. My family were supportive but I think they knew that it was going to be hard to say goodbye.
Did you go to Billy school in Leeds like many of the English Billys?
CS: No, I came over in March and started training then, right here in London. [Rehearsals lasted] two months. It started out easy, we went right into the dances, and then when I found out I was going on [the show] early it started to get more intense, but I held up pretty well.
Is it competitive between you and the other Billys?
CS: We’re not competitive at all, we’re all very friendly with each other. [It’s a] totally different show with every Billy. It [the schedule] changes all the time – last week I was doing three shows, next week I could be doing two, three or four; you never know, it changes all the time.
Have the other cast members given you any advice?
CS: They say just have fun when I’m doing it, and not stress out. That’s what the Billys say to me all the time, just have fun, don’t stress out over it.
Is that easy to do?
CS: Sometimes! I have had a few moments when I tear myself apart but the Billys are always there.
How did you get into dancing?
CS: I started dancing at the age of three, and I first started because I watched one of my mum’s videos – she used to dance for a while – and I said I want to do that, and they took me to classes. I just like it all! I just think it’s really fun. Right from the beginning I wanted to be on stage, on Broadway.
Are you disappointed not to be in the Broadway production?
CS: Well not really. I hope that I will still be fit for the part for when it opens on Broadway, but if not then I’m glad I’m doing the show now.
How would it feel to be in doing the show in New York?
CS: Pretty exciting because it’s my home town and all my friends could come and see me.
Where are you living during your time in the show in London?
CS: We live with the house mother, with the other Billys.
What do you when it’s not a show night?
CS: When we have our nights off we’re in the house and I personally like to relax on the couch, I don’t know what everyone else does! They’ve introduced me to the Catherine Tate Show.
What about school work?
CS: We do three hours of school a day. We have a private tutor. I still do my US curriculum. I find I’m good at Math but I like learning about History.
How long are you in Billy Elliot for?
CS: I think I’m going to stay here until the New York production opens or until I grow out of the part, whichever comes first. em>CB