Brodie to Billy for top starlet

Poised: Layton schoolboy Brodie Donougher
Poised: Layton schoolboy Brodie Donougher

It’s a case of life imitating art as a plucky young lad from the north of England has been chosen to star in a ballet based musical in London.

Brodie Donougher, from North Shore, has been selected to play the lead role in Billy Elliot The Musical at the Victoria Palace in London.

The 11-year-old was awarded a place at the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London earlier this year, having excelled in the dance through the PrimarySTEPS programme at his school, which is run by Dance Partnership and Access at The Royal Ballet School.

The former Layton Primary School has long had ambitions to play the part after joining a Billy Elliot summer school in 2013 and after winning the ballet school place back in March.

He said: “I knew last summer I wanted to be Billy, and I was overwhelmed when I was offered the role a year later.”

His mother, Ashley added: “No words can explain how proud we are of his achievements and the commitment that he has put in.”

Set in a Northern mining town, against the background of the miner’s strikes, Billy Elliot charts the lead character’s journey from the boxing ring into ballet, and how his love for the dance changes his and his family’s lives and the views of his community.

Comparatively, Brodie moved from gymnastics to ballet, having performed with Garstang School of Gymnastics, and his own road to success has seen a move for his family too.

Brodie spent five weeks in summer receiving tuition and travelled to Manchester three times a week for private lessons.

He is now settling in to the role, which he made his debut performance of on November 19, and although the move has been tough, his mother said he would not change it for the world.

She said: “It’s a huge move for an 11-year-old but with all the travelling to London, it’s something he needed to do.

“He still absolutely loves it, despite how much he misses being with his mum and dad, his drive to be Billy is that much more.”

Ashley and her partner have now moved from Blackpool to Sussex so that they can be closer to Brodie.

The mother said: “The move has been very emotionally tough, we have had to leave three older children back in Blackpool.

“It’s only been two weeks since we moved but it’s been really hard.”

Brodie becomes the 39th boy to perform the role of Billy at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre and the 76th boy to perform the role worldwide, now being listed alongside the likes of actor Jamie Bell who played Billy Elliot in the award-winning film.