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By Charles Hutchinson
Gazette & Herald
Photograph by Jane Boyes
February 12, 2010


A DISLOCATED elbow may have dashed Lewis Danby’s hopes of appearing in the West End production of Billy Elliot The Musical, but all his hard work has still paid dividends.

Twelve-year-old Lewis, from Pickering, is to play the title role in the northern youth theatre premiere in April, staged by Ryedale Youth Theatre in conjunction with Kirkham Henry Performing Arts in Malton, as part of the Billy Youth Theatre project.

After training in all dance and musical theatre disciplines at Kirkham Henry Performing Arts and Ryedale Youth Theatre since a young age, Lewis was selected in December, 2007, to attend the Billy Elliot School in Leeds, studying there every Saturday for a year.

Unfortunately, after he dislocated his elbow in 2008, his injury reoccurred three days before the end of his Billy Elliot Summer School sessions in London.

Lewis was disappointed that he was unable to dance in the final performance and could only do the singing parts. Come his final assessment, he was told that although he was considered good enough to play Billy, no slots were available at that time. Now, however, Lewis will have his chance to perform his dream role at the Milton Rooms, Malton, in a production directed by Kirkham Henry’s principal, Angela Kirkham, director and choreographer of Ryedale Youth Theatre.

Like Billy, she hails from the north-east where, at a similar age to the miner’s son in the musical, she won the English junior ballet championship and came fourth in the English tap championship.

The Billy Elliot production company in London asked Angela for advice on training boys for the show and she was invited to attend a day at the Billy Elliot training school in Leeds. Realising the standard of teaching at Kirkham Henry, the Billy Elliot School paid her to give Lewis tap private tuition.

His reward comes with the production run from April 7 to 10 when the 7.15pm performances will be complemented by Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2pm.

Tickets are available from the Malton Tourist Information Centre, Malton Museum, Market Place, Malton, or on 01653 600048.

* Billy Youth Theatre is a new initiative to enable schools and youth groups to present a shorter version of the West End script and score specially adapted for the nationwide project. A series of regional showcases will culminate in the Billy Youth Theatre West End Gala in July at the Victoria Palace Theatre, Billy’s London home.

York Stage Musicals will present the York premiere from June 7 to 12 at the Grand Opera House, York, at 7.30pm nightly plus a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 0844 847 2322 or log on to


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