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The Bath Chronicle
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
[Edited]

 

 Oliver Gardner, Billy Elliot, UK, 2009

When 12-year-old Ollie Gardner went along to his first ballet lesson at the age of five, he was so shy that he hid behind the piano. Now, just seven years later he is about to make his West End debut playing the lead role in the musical Billy Elliot.

 

The year 7 Kingswood School pupil, who lives in Saltford with his mum Sabra, dad Simon and 13-year-old sister Stanya, had his talent spotted at a young age.

 

His first dance teacher Annette Hind, who owns the Dorothy Coleburn School of Dancing, remembers when she saw him for the first time. She said: “Ollie would come and watch his sister’s dance classes because his mum was playing the piano and he would hide behind the piano because he was shy.

 

“I thought that because his sister was so good and because he came from such a musical family, that he must be good too. Eventually we persuaded him to join and it became clear very, very quickly that he was going to be a star.”

 

Ollie started classes in ballet, tap and modern dance and despite being the only boy he soon flourished and became a junior associate at the Royal Ballet School when he was just nine.

 

He first auditioned for the part of Billy Elliot last April and since then has completed the transition to the stage in the shortest ever time, with the training usually taking at least 18 months.

 

Next Tuesday will be his opening night and it coincides with the musical’s fourth birthday and the 1,700th show at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London. He is sharing the role with four other boys in the production.

 

While he has been preparing for the show in London, Ollie’s family or dance teachers have not been able to watch his progress and his mum said they were looking forward to seeing him perform.

 

Mrs Gardner said: “We are very, very excited and hugely proud. We know how hard he has worked, he is so dedicated. The reason he has been ready so quickly is because of his work ethic. We know that he is hugely talented, but it is also about his hard work. It is going to be absolutely amazing to finally see him dance and in a way it is really nice that the first time we watch him is when he is up on that stage.”

 

Mrs Hinds said she was not at all surprised that Ollie had achieved so much at such a young age. She added: “He was destined to play that part. That was what he said he always wanted to do. When he was having his ballet lessons it was always his goal to dance professionally. “I can’t tell you how proud I am. It almost brings tears to my eyes because I know he is going to have such a fantastic career.”

 

Ollie said he was very excited about his opening night and described Billy Elliot as his dream part. He said: “I was thrilled when I found out I would be playing my dream role of Billy Elliot in the West End. The training has been hard work but all the teachers made it fun and I love being part of such a great company.”

 

Ollie said he wanted to thank his family and teachers for supporting him and believing in his talent. He added: “Cheers to all my great mates at Kingswood School – I can’t wait for you all to come and see me in the show!”

 

Kingswood headmaster, Simon Morris, said: “We are all extremely proud of Ollie. He has worked hard for this and really deserves his success. There is great excitement here about his West End debut and I know his friends are looking forward to seeing him on stage.”

 

 
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One Comment

  1. ollie gardner is the best billy i have ever seen i would love to meet you one day face to face ,hope you do great in all the shows lots of love georgia clark xxxxxxxx


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