One of the pleasures of this job is meeting and interviewing interesting and accomplished people–traits we tend to associate with adults. Every now and then, though, I am lucky enough to interview someone very young who really knocks my socks off–who has either blazing talent, an engaging personality, or some other trait that makes him or her just plain fun to meet.
So it was a quadruple treat when I got to interview the four young actors currently starring as “Billy Elliot” here in Chicago. (The interview aired Monday night.) The show is demanding for its young stars. It lasts almost 3 hours and the actor playing Billy is on stage for just about all of it–the dancing, singing, and acting focal point. His performance holds the show together. Because the show is so draining, each young actor performs only twice a week.
The four Billys were smart, funny, charismatic, and charming. And they were completely unaffected and unspoiled. When they walked into our studio and saw the set, the cameras, the lights, their eyes got big as saucers and they all said, “Cool!” They love to laugh and they seem to really like each other.
But what really struck me was how candid and self-aware they are. One of the Billys seemed moved when he talked about how his mother and sister cried after every one of his performances. Another said that seeing his family’s reaction to his performances was a reality check on just how lucky he was to be starring in a major show. And they were open about the grief they had received from other kids about being male dancers.
Anyway, every time I think about the interview I am moved at how these boys were so nice and fresh and what a spark they had. They put me in the best mood possible. Almost makes me wish I were the father of young children again! In case you missed the interview, here’s the video: