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By Claire Beal
Lynn News
April 30,  2010

 

A West Norfolk boy born with a hole in his heart is set to dazzle London theatre audiences in the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical. Aaron Watson (12), of Terrington St Clement, has been undergoing a gruelling training routine since October to perfect his performance in readiness for the moment when he appears in front 1,500 people to sing
and dance his heart out.

His father, Nick, said: “I don’t even think he will be nervous.” Aaron agreed, saying: “I’m really excited. I can’t wait.”

He has been living in London since October, sharing a house with a dozen other young performers from the show. Five days a week, he has schooling from 9am to 12.30pm and then trains at the theatre or dance studios from 2pm to 8pm. On Saturdays, he trains from 10am to 5pm.

It seems a daunting schedule, but Mr Watson said: “He is absolutely loving it. It doesn’t seem like hard work to him. It’s harder for us getting used to him not being at home.”

Every other weekend, Aaron is allowed a couple of days at home in West Norfolk But Mr Watson and his wife, Karen, are not expecting to see him again until the opening night.

A family group of 15, including Aaron’s brother Shaun and sister Lisa, are travelling to be in the audience to cheer him on in his debut as the 23rd Billy in the West End.

There will be an especially emotional and memorable moment on the night because Aaron will donate his first week’s wages to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where as a five-month-old baby he underwent major heart surgery.

When his health improved, he took up gymnastics and soon began to excel as a gymnast. He also joined the Footlights Dance Centre in Lynn and quickly started winning medals and cups for all types of dancing.

His first steps towards the Billy Elliot role were made at an audition in 2007.

He was invited to perform on television at the BAFTA awards that year. Prophetically, he appeared as a future Billy Elliot alongside boys who had already danced the part or were appearing in the show at the time.

He has had to audition every few months since then and also attended two summer schools in 2008 and 2009. Two months ago, he finally found out he had the role. “Aaron was overwhelmed. He would have been so gutted if he hadn’t got it after two and a half years of training,” said Mr Watson.

Aaron is a former pupil of Terrington St Clement Primary School and had just settled in at Springwood High School when he had to move to London.

Mr Watson said: “All the time he has been training, he has had singing lessons from Karen Stewart, of West Winch.”

He also thanked Footlights Performing Arts, Lynn Gym Club and sponsors Lynn Rotary Club, Terrington United Charities and Janet Newdick (Dezynapet) for their help.

Aaron added: “I would like to thank all my dance, singing and acting teachers who have taught me everything I know.”

Having already achieved success beyond the wildest dreams of many young hopefuls in the theatre world, Aaron is still thinking of the future.

After Billy Elliot, he hopes to go to the Royal Ballet then train as a choreographer and work as one in the West End.

Aaron’s first appearance will be on Monday, May 31, at the Victoria Palace Theatre.

 

©2010 Johnston Press Digital Publishing

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