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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, May 8, 2019 3 years ago

‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’ boogies over to Garden Theatre

The Garden Theatre has extended this show to June 2.
by: Eric Gutierrez Former Staff Writer

Grab your dancing shoes and boogie over to the Garden Theatre to see its production of “Billy Elliot: The Musical.”

The Garden Theatre’s latest production is now playing and has been extended to June 2. The show features both local and national talent, including 12-year-old Parker Fullmore, from the Bay area in California, and 14-year-old Burke Brickner, from New York City. Fullmore plays Billy Elliot, while Brickner plays Billy’s friend, Michael. 

“I chose to play that role, because I saw the show when I was like, 5, and I absolutely loved it and I told my mom, ‘I want to do this,’” Fullmore said. “I worked on it so long to try and be Billy, and it worked out. … I’ve just been training with singing, acting, dancing (and) gymnastics.”

“I fell in love with Michael’s role,” Brickner said. “He’s so heartfelt in every way. (He’s) super funny (and) super witty. He’s great. I fell in love with him and his whole character and everything he does.”

“Billy Elliot: The Musical” takes place in a northern English mining town during the miners’ strike of 1984 and follows the inspirational tale of 11-year-old Billy’s journey from the boxing ring to a ballet class to make his dreams come true. Billy challenges his hometown’s long-held, traditional beliefs as he pursues his dream. He develops a passion for dance that unites his family, inspires his community and changes his life forever along the way. The production also features a musical score that was written by Sir Elton John.

“It’s about an 11-year-old kid in a mining community who wants to dance, but can’t because of the status quo,” Fullmore said. “All the men do boxing. The girls ballet.”

“Guys don’t dance (in the story),” Brickner said. ‘It’s only a girl’s sport.’ … (Billy learns not) to listen to the status quo because that’s not what’s important in life — it’s about what you want to do.”

Cast members of “Billy Elliot: The Musical” strike a pose after a dance number.

This isn’t the first time Fullmore and Brickner have starred in “Billy Elliot: The Musical.” In fact, both boys have been in productions of the show at other theaters in the last two years. Although they both have played in numerous other productions of the show, the Garden Theatre’s production of “Billy Elliot: The Musical” is the first in which they have starred together.

“This is my fourth production (of ‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’),” Fullmore said. “I did my first production when I was just 10 years old.”

Fullmore and Brickner both got into acting through their love of dance. Fullmore has been acting for four years, and Brickner nine.

“I first started dancing when I was 2 years old,” Fullmore said. “I saw ‘The Nutcracker,’ and I absolutely loved it, and I started dancing around then. I just kept training in dancing, and then when I saw the show (‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’), I started getting into acting (and) singing.”

Brickner said he began dancing when he was 3 and started taking acting classes at 5. 

“Acting really came into play after I really saw that dancing … is a way of acting,” Brickner said. “You’re expressing yourself (and) putting yourself out there through movement. I really wanted to (improve) myself on that topic of acting, so I started getting into acting classes probably eight (or) nine years ago.”

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Eric Gutierrez was a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and Southwest Orange Observer....

See All Articles by Eric

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