Stanley Reedy was in the cowshed milking on his family's Westport farm when he got the news he'd been waiting for. He was one of the six boys chosen to star in Auckland Theatre Company's musical
It means the 14-year-old can't play rugby this season but he reckons it could be the break he wants to start a career in theatre.
Stanley is one of six boys from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Westport who will star in the production at the new ASB Waterfront Theatre in October.
The role of Billy has gone to Jaxson Cook, 11, Harry Sills, 10, and Ben Shieff, 13. Stanley, Daniel Bridgman, 10, and Christian Swan, 14, will play his flamboyant friend, Michael.
In all, about 60 boys tried out. ATC artistic director Colin McColl says it was a big task to audition boys from all over the country - and some who travelled from australia - but they believe they have six young men with the skills the roles require - ballet, tap, acting and singing as well as the ability to master a "Geordie" accent.
Five of the boys gathered at ATC on Friday for an informal afternoon tea and to show some of the moves they will refine during the next four-and-a-half months of school-holiday boot camps, ballet and tap lessons and, from August, an intensive five-week rehearsal period.
Their excitement is best summed up by Jaxson who says on hearing the news - while building a deck with his dad - he felt as if he was flying.
"I felt amazing. I felt I had just achieved my dreams in life. It is such a thrill to think I am going to play the role I have always dreamed about."
The lead roles will be played interchangeably by three boys each to give the young performers down time.
All hope to have careers in the arts and say starring in Billy Elliot will be a great launch pad. Harry, Christian and Stanley have been dancing for a number of years, but Daniel, Jaxson and Ben are newer to the art.
Ben started just 12 weeks ago when he decided he wanted to be in the musical and had had just five tap-dancing lessons before his audition.
Set in a northern UK mining town against the background of the 1984 miners' strike, Billy Elliot the Musical is the story of a boy's struggle to make his dream come true. Christian and Harry agree that sometimes they get a bit of teasing about dancing but it makes them more determined to do what they love and gives them more in common with the characters they'll play.
Billy Elliot previews from Friday, October 7.