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Elton John World News: Cumbian kid in 4-way race to appear in Billy Elliott

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Auditions continue across the UK

Friday 23 January 2004 @ 2:18 - GMT

A west Cumbrian star-to-be is down to the final four UK youngsters battling it out to win one of the leading roles in the forthcoming London West End stage show Billy Elliot - The Musical.

Whitehaven's Brad Kavanagh, aged 11, dazzled producers and directors of the forthcoming show with his personality, singing and acting skills after the first audition in Newcastle.

And that was without Brad having even had a single dancing lesson.

Now he is taking a crash course in tap tuition to help him win the
right to play Michael, Billy's best friend in the story of a boy from
a north east mining community who dreams of becoming a dancer.

Brad's mother Lisa is now coming to terms with the news that her young son may soon be working alongside movie and music greats like Stephen Daldry, director of the 2000 Oscar-winning film starring Jamie Bell, and with a score written by Elton John.

The film's writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling are also involved in the stage production.

Lisa said: "I'm still in shock. I think we all are. They called us
last week to say he was down to the last four for Michael, Billy's
friend.

"He auditioned for both roles and they loved Brad's character and said he would be better as Michael."

Other auditions are still being held across the country.

Musical bosses need to have several boys playing the roles of Billy and Michael because of child labour laws.

Brad beat off competition from more than 200 other hopefuls at his first audition in Newcastle last November.

Similar numbers were auditioned in Leeds and Manchester before the shortlist of 24 lucky lads spent two days in London last weekend.

Brad's love for performing has come from the time he spent with
Whitehaven's Theatre of Youth. It included taking the lead in Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat. The youth group has given Brad a £250 scholarship to help cover expenses.

Who wants to be Billy Elliot? - Thursday, January 8 2004 at 07:13:15