Thursday, January 5, 2012

Billy Elliott the Musical Smashes Onto the Benedum Stage


Today's date:
January 5, 2012

Veronica Corpuz

Diana Roth

PNC Broadway Across America-Pittsburgh presents Billy Elliot the Musical

January 31 through February 12, 2012, Benedum Center

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and PNC Broadway Across America-Pittsburgh announce that NETworks Presentations, LLC will bring the multi-award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical to Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center from January 31 through February 12, 2012. Based on the international smash-hit film and featuring music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, choreography by Peter Darling and direction by Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot the Musical has earned critical acclaim on Broadway including 10 Tony Awards.

Billy Elliot the Musical is the joyous celebration of one boy’s journey to make his dreams come true. Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a surprising talent that inspires his family and his whole community and changes his life forever.

Billy Elliot the Musical features Ty Forhan, Kylend Hetherington, Zach Manske and J.P. Viernes in the role of ‘Billy.’

Also featured are Leah Hocking (Mrs. Wilkinson); Rich Hebert (Dad); Cynthia Darlow (Grandma); Cullen Titmas (Tony); Joel Blum (George); Ben Cook and Jacob Zelonky (Michael); and Samantha Blaire Cutler (Debbie).

Ben Brantley of the New York Times says that Billy Elliot “Sends audiences into a mass swoon!” Time Out says it’s “The most electric and passionate show in years.” The Daily News calls Billy “So exhilarating that you feel like leaping!” Liz Smith calls the show “Absolutely awesome.” The New York Observer raves that Billy is “The best thing to happen to Broadway in a long while.” WOR’s Dave Richardson cheers, “All I can say is WOW!”

The production features original direction by Stephen Daldry, choreography by Peter Darling, scenic design by Ian MacNeil, associate direction by Julian Webber, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch. Touring production direction is by Justin Martin and choreography by Kathryn Dunn. The show was originally produced by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions.

The production has been awarded 81 national and international awards including ten Tony Awards, and Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle.

Additional information about Billy Elliot the Musical is available at

Billy Elliot the Musical performance dates and times are Tuesday, January 31, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, February 1, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, February 2, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, February 3, 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, February 4, 2:00 and 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, February 5, 1:00 and 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday, February 7, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, February 8, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, February 9, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, February 10, 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, February 11, 2:00 and 8:00 p.m.; Sunday, February 12, 1:00 and 6:30 p.m.

Tickets ($22-$79) are now on sale for all performances at the Box Office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue, by phone at (412) 456-6666 or online at For group ticket sales (15 or more), please call 412-471-6930. PNC Broadway Across America - Pittsburgh series is a presentation of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Symphony and Broadway Across America.
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Cast Biographies

TY FORHAN (Billy) is 13 years old, from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. Ty won many awards for song and dance with the help of Pat Wilson. He trains and competes with Elite Danceworx and his vocal training has been with Irene Ilic. Ty has performed successfully in many vocal festivals and he has enjoyed training on the piano with Eugene Burda. He has been active in local theatre since he was five, playing the lead in Oliver!, Jo Jo in Seussical the Musical, Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz and he performed in the revue Musical Mayhem. Ty most recently played the role of Billy Elliot at the Canon Theatre in Toronto, Canada.

KYLEND HETHERINGTON (Billy), 14, hails from Auburn, Michigan, and most recently played ‘Michael’ and ‘Tall Boy’ in the Broadway production. Later he studied ballet with Giuseppe Canale and Scott Heinrich and tap with Bruce Bradley. In 2009, he participated in the ABT Young Dancer Summer Workshop under full scholarship.

ZACH MANSKE (Billy), 12, is from Woodbury, Minnesota. He began dancing at the age of 8 and quickly learned that dance was his passion. Zach has danced competitively with Woodbury Dance Center and has received numerous top scores and judges’ choice awards. He received the junior national champion title at Starquest (2010) and Masquerade (2011) national dance competitions. Zach loves to perform and is honored to be a part of the Billy Elliot cast. Thanks to Woodbury Dance Center, his friends and family, and his sister Rachel who is his biggest fan.

J.P. VIERNES (Billy), 15, Half Moon Bay, California. National Tour: Billy Elliot (Chicago/Toronto). Regional: South Pacific (Coastal Rep). J.P., a Bay Area native, began dancing at age seven with Shely Pack Dancers and danced two years with City Ballet San Francisco. Recipient: CHRP JUBA award for Billy Elliot.

LEAH HOCKING (Mrs. Wilkinson) Original Broadway casts: Billy Elliot, All Shook Up, Dance of the Vampires, The Wild Party, Jekyll & Hyde. Other Broadway: Mamma Mia!, Hairspray, Grease, Guys and Dolls. Off-Broadway: The Thing About Men, Forbidden Broadway, Inside Out, etc. New York City Opera: The Most Happy Fella. Regional: La Jolla Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Papermill Playhouse, The Ordway, The Muny (Kevin Kline Award nom.), Tuts Houston, and many others. Film and television: Across the Universe, Law & Order, Whoopi. As a principle artist with Broadway Pops International, she has sung with symphonies across the country. She can be heard on cast recordings of All Shook Up, The Wild Party, Jekyll & Hyde and The Thing About Men. Leah is the very proud mother of Mabel.

RICH HEBERT (Dad) returns to the stage after 4 years of living the "civilian life" of a theater instructor at Bridgewater State University. Hebert was last seen as Commander Khashoggi in the Las Vegas production of We Will Rock You. Broadway and National tours include: the original Broadway companies of The Life, Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables (Bay Area Critics Award), Cats, Saturday Night Fever, and Rock and Roll the First 5000 Years. He starred as Manuel in MTC's Captains Courageous, Zoser in Elton John's Elaborate Lives in Atlanta, and Warbucks in Papermill Playhouse's Annie. TV credits include: Brotherhood, Law & Order SVU, NYPD Blue, The Sopranos, Deadline, Line of Fire, The Oldest Rookie, 21 Jump Street and numerous soap operas. Rich is a graduate of Boston University.

CYNTHIA DARLOW (Grandma). Broadway: Billy Elliot; Accent On Youth; Old Acquaintance; Rabbit Hole; Taller Than Dwarf; Present Laughter; Sex and Longing; Prelude to a Kiss; Rumors; Grease (orig. prod.). Off Broadway: The Late Christopher Bean; Eccentricities of a Nightingale; Home; Sin; Juno and the Paycock; Cider House Rules; Once in a Lifetime; Most Fabulous Story Ever Told; June Moon; Death Defying Acts; Mere Mortals. Television: “The Sopranos,” “Law & Order,” “L&O: Criminal Intent,” “L&O: SVU,” “Six Degrees,” “Soul Man,” “Square One T.V.” Film: The Savages, 25th Hour, The Thomas Crown Affair, Garden State. Member of TACT/The Actors Company Theatre and Actor’s Center. AEA, AFTRA, SAG

CULLEN TITMAS (Tony) is continuing his journey with Billy Elliot after understudying this role and performing in the ensemble of the previous tour. Cullen spent 3 years in the National Tour and Off-Broadway productions of Avenue Q (Nicky/Trekkie), and previously co-created and performed the role of Marlin in Finding Nemo, the Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. NYC/Regional favorites include John and Jen (John), AIDA (Radames), Footloose (Ren) three times, Forever Plaid (Sparky) twice, and the title role in Adam Guettel’s Floyd Collins.

Joel Blum (George) is a two-time Tony nominee in the best supporting actor category for the Prince/Stroman Show Boat and for Steel Pier. Other Broadway includes 42nd Street (original cast), Music Man, A Christmas Carol, Elaine May's After the Night and the Music, and Stardust. He recently played multiple roles in 101 Dalmatians the Musical at Madison Square Garden. Joel has toured extensively in: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Doctor Doolittle starring Tommy Tune, (which he co-choreographed with Patti Colombo), ...and the World Goes 'Round, The Debbie Reynolds Show, to mention a few. He received a Barrymore award for best supporting actor in Tin Pan Alley Rag, was nominated in the same category for a Helen Hayes award for his work in Meet John Doe at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D C. Joel has appeared on "Law & Order" twice, "Ed", the "Sopranos", Danced on the "Sonny and Cher Show", two Bob Hope Specials, and the "Tonight Show" starring Johnny Carson. He has co-written and stars in his one man show about Bob Hope entitled: Hope Eternal.

BEN COOK (Michael),14, joins the tour after a 15-month run on Broadway where he played Tall Boy/Posh Boy and served as the Michael understudy. Performing since the age of 9, he made his professional debut as Tiny Tim in Ford’s Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. He understudied the principal role of Little Boy in the Kennedy Center’s production of Ragtime, and made his Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated production in November 2009. Other credits: Heavens Are Hung in Black (Ford’s Theatre), Macbeth (Folger Shakespeare Theatre), Terrance McNally’s Nights at the Opera: Golden Age (Kennedy Center), NBC’s “30 Rock.”

Jacob Zelonky (Michael), 13, is from Memphis, Tennessee, and has been playing the role of Michael in the national tour for the past year. Favorite regional theater roles include: JoJo, Seussical; Edmund, Narnia; and Tiny Tim, A Christmas Carol, the Musical. Special thanks to Nora Brennan, Seth Sklar-Heyn, Mary Giattino, Whitney Branan, Elizabeth Anne Brown, Amy Hanford, and Memphis Playhouse on the Square.

SAMANTHA BLAIRE CUTLER (Debbie) is thrilled to tour with Billy! Favorite regional credits: Annie (Molly), Seussical (JoJo), White Christmas (Susan Waverly), Beauty and the Beast (Chip), A Wonderful Life (ZuZu). Film: Mystery at Locust Grove (Lydia). Love and thanks to Mom, Dad, family, Derby Dinner Playhouse, Music Theater Louisville, Centerstage, Dancensation, King Voice Studios, John D'Aquino, Nora Brennan, Station Three.

Production Biographies

NETworks PRESENTATIONS, LLC (Producer) Since 1995, NETworks has produced and managed over 45 touring productions in the U.S., U.K. and internationally. Current productions include Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Young Frankenstein, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, Blue Man Group National Tour, La Cage, Shrek The Musical and The New 25th Anniversary Production of Les Misérables. Future productions include Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, Flashdance the Musical and National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of War Horse touring the U.S.

Posted on behalf of Joanne Quinn-Smith by Joyce Kane.  Joyce is the Owner of Cybertary Pittsburgh, a Virtual Administrative support company, providing virtual office support, personal and executive assistance, creative design services and light bookkeeping.  Cybertary works with businesses and busy individuals to help them work 'on' their business rather than 'in' their business.

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