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By Stephen Brown
The Palm Beach Illustrated
December 2010

 

Few people ever realize their dream, let alone accomplish it by their 15th birthday. Tommy Batchelor, however, is living his dream. The 15-year-old dancing phenom, fresh off a stint at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre and Chicago’s Oriental Theatre as the title character in Billy Elliot, The Musical, Batchelor is making his triumphant return to his hometown of Palm Beach Gardens—as a prince, no less. Performing the role of The Prince/Nutcracker in the iconic holiday ballet, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Batchelor will fight the evil Mouse King and escort his princess, Marie, to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Miami City Ballet’s rendition at the Kravis Center, December 3-5.

   Tommy Batchelor, who trained at the Palm Beach Ballet Center and BAK Middle School of the Arts, has spent the last two years pursuing his dream in New York City and Chicago, performing for audiences well versed in the art of dance. “Performing in front of such a large audience made every show the best time of my life,” says Batchelor. “The reaction from the audience keeps you pumped. Many audience members even meet you at the stage door to get autographs, or just talk after the show.” 

   Performing in some capacity on stage in nearly every minute of the two-hour, 50-minute show, playing the title role in Billy Elliot, The Musical is not only physically demanding on young performers, but mentally as well. Incorporating dance, song, acting and tap, performers need to be versed in an array of techniques to even be considered for the part. Consequently, the part of Billy Elliot is split between a number of actors to keep up with the demand of the role, alternating performances nightly. For Batchelor, this was not just a challenge relished, but also an indelible learning experience that will serve him and his craft well into the future.

   “I’ve learned a lot about acting and dancing in Billy Elliot,” says Batchelor. “I’ve got the confidence to perform in a long running show; I learned how to pace myself. And I feel I’ve learned a lot about facial expression and timing, allowing me to make every role my own.”

   This confidence will come in handy this week when Batchelor tackles the role of The Prince/Nutcracker, which not only challenges the performer as a dancer but also as an actor. “One of the most challenging scenes is the ‘Mime scene’ where I tell the story in mime,” he says. “It involves some dancing, but really requires facial expression and precise body position to convey the story properly.” And as for being back home, Batchelor says: “It’s always nice to perform for the home crowd.”

 

© 2010 Palm Beach Media Group

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