London's Billy Elliot to Welcome New Dance Teacher

News   London's Billy Elliot to Welcome New Dance Teacher
 
London's award-winning Billy Elliot — The Musical will welcome a new dance teacher June 5 when Sally Dexter joins the cast of the hit Elton John-Lee Hall-Stephen Daldry musical.

Dexter replaces Haydn Gwynne, who originated the role of dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson and received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for her performance.

Dexter is herself a twice-nominated Olivier Award nominee: for Anna in the National Theatre's production of Patrick Marber's Closer in 1998 and as Nancy in Oliver! in 1995 at the London Palladium.

One of the most versatile performers on the London stage, her recent credits also include the National's Theatre of Blood; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (at Sadler's Wells); and Simon Gray's The Old Masters (Comedy 2004). Other directors she has worked with include Nicholas Hytner (The Recruiting Officer), Robert Lepage (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Peter Hall (The Tempest).

Dexter will be joined on June 5 by several other new cast members, including Sarah Poyzer as Billy's mum; ten-year-old Leyci Wightman as Debbie; Shaun Malone, 11, as Billy's best friend Michael; plus a new team of ballet girls for Mrs. Wilkinson's dance class.

They will join the current cast led by Philip Whitchurch as Billy's Dad and Chris Lennon as his brother, Tony. Billy continues to be alternated between Olivier Award winner Liam Mower, Colin Bates, Leon Cooke, Matthew Koon and Travis Yates. Since it opened in March 2005, Billy Elliot — The Musical has broken all box-office records at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Produced by Working Title and Old Vic Productions, it is now booking to October 2006.

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Writer-critic Carole Woddis is temporarily filling in for vacationing London correspondent John Nathan.

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