Ballet, singing rehearsals, school lessons and of course on stage every evening: there’s no doubt that the 23 child actors currently in Hamburg with the crew of the London hit musical Billy Elliot are kept pretty busy. Far from home they may be, but it’s also a huge adventure. After finishing a UK tour, the current cast is currently dancing, singing, swearing and laughing its way into the hearts of Hamburg audiences at eight performances a week. The show ends on 23 July.
The main character of the award-winning stage production, with music by Sir Elton John, is little Billy, who comes from a mining background. He’s really supposed to be learning to box but would so much rather dance. Four young talents play him in turn at the Mehr! Theater am Großmarkt. One of them is 12-year-old Emile Gooding, who impressed both press and public immensely at the premiere on 29 June. We grabbed him for a few questions between two rehearsals.
You are in Hamburg for about two weeks now. What has been your biggest moment on stage so far?
Probably on press night when the audience were really loud and they clapped for me. The audience is a bit different here and they find different parts of the jokes funny, but that was really cool.
Did you have any free time to spend?
Yeah, of course we have time to relax. Most of the time we talk to our parents. We call our families every lunch and every evening and sometimes we can skype with them. Yeah, sometimes it’s hard, when I get a bit homesick and I wanna be home. But all the other children and chaperones are really supportive – they help me get over it and they’re really nice.
Did you get to see something of the city?
We sometimes went to the park called Planten un Blomen. On one of our days off we went to Hamburg Dungeon, which was fun but also really scary. What I liked most was the ride at the end with the drop down. And then yesterday we went on a big boat for a harbour trip. It took about an hour and I liked it, although it was raining. And then one team went to Miniature Wonderland but I didn’t go – I went shopping the whole day in the mall called Europa Passage. They’ve got a photo booth in there and I spent all my money taking pictures with the other children.
Did you know anything about Hamburg before coming here?
I only remembered the word “Hamburg” because it’s like “hamburger”. But I don’t really like hamburgers, I like fries. And chocolate.
Is there something you would like to do in Hamburg before returning home?
I don’t really know places because I’ve been here for such a short period of time and we’ve been really busy. But I wanna go swimming in the sea when it’s warm.
Emile, thanks for the talk and ahoi!
Photos: Anne Kleinfeld and Allastair Muir