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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 17:19 GMT 18:19 UK
Dancing in Billy Elliot's footsteps
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Left to right: Liam Mower, George Maguire, James Lomas
The three boys will play the part of Billy Elliot for six months

BBC News Online talks to the three new stars of Billy Elliot - The Musical, and their parents, about following in the footsteps of Jamie Bell.

A few years ago, Liam Mower played rugby league with his three brothers in their hometown of Hull.

Now aged just 12, Liam is one of three boys to have landed the role of Billy Elliot in the West End musical adaptation of the Oscar-nominated hit film.

He has also just taken up a place at the prestigious Royal Ballet White Lodge School in Richmond Park, south-west London, after falling in love with ballet.

Liam flew the family nest four weeks ago to take up his Royal Ballet place, leaving mother Jo, father Paul, and his brothers.

Parallels

Mrs Mower told BBC News Online she had watched the Billy Elliot film many times and admits there are parallels to their own lives.

"We are just a normal family and we were worried about the financial side [of the Royal Ballet], but he got a full scholarship.

Some of George's friends are real lads, but he has had them doing pirouettes in the playground
Dawn Maguire

"His brothers are great now, but at first they couldn't understand why he wanted to do it, as they all like their rugby.

"But they've watched him up on stage now and they think he is fantastic."

Liam said he had always loved music and it "made him want to dance".

Mrs Mower, a sandwich shop worker, said Liam had played rugby league with his brothers - Luke, Lewis and Leighton - until he started dancing.

"He always liked to dance and my mum used to always ask me to take him to dance classes. In the end I gave in," she explained

Liam quickly discovered his talent for disco, rock and roll and Latin dance, but resisted taking up ballet.

"He didn't want to do ballet, I think he thought it wasn't for boys," said Mrs Mower.

Liam Mower
Liam only took up ballet a year ago

"But his dance teacher told him it would help make him strong and now, of course, he absolutely loves it."

"When the Royal Ballet audition came up, he just knew it was something he really wanted to do.

Mr Mower, who works as an engineer, added: "We are really proud of him, to think he is doing something like this."

Acting bug

Fellow Billy Elliot, James Lomas, the son of a Sheffield steelworker, was into gymnastics, karate and football before his love for the stage began to take over.

The 14-year-old caught the acting bug and joined a drama club, where he was advised to take up dance lessons if he wanted to fulfil his ambition of appearing in a West End show.

He started out in an amateur production of Oliver! put on by his local operatic society, before deciding to take up dancing.

Left to right: George Maguire and James Lomas
George (l) and James said they were all great friends

James - a former gymnastics' champion - said he had "given up a lot" to follow his dream.

His mother, Catherine, a hairdresser, said: "When one of his friends asked him what his ambition was, he said he wanted to appear in a West End musical.

"He asked me if he could join a dance class so I found one in the Yellow Pages.

"There were no boys in his class but that didn't bother him. He loves girls and gets lots of attention."

Mrs Lomas said when she was finally told James had the part, the feeling was "like an explosion".

"I just wanted to yell at the top of my voice 'he's got it!'".

"I was doing someone's hair at the time and me and the customer ended up dancing around the salon."

James' father, Peter, said he was "immensely proud" of his son.

Audition 'rejection'

George Maguire, who goes to Gable Hall School, in Essex, almost did not make it after his first audition seemingly ended in disaster.

"He came out a bit upset because he thought they had put him in the group of boys who had been asked to leave," said mother, Dawn.

"We were on our way home when they rang up and said, 'Where's George?' It turned out he had joined the wrong group and they wanted him to come back."

George started singing lessons at 11 and initially told his parents there was "no way" he was going take up ballet.

The 13-year-old said he had received a lot of support from family and friends.

Dance workshops

He said: "My friends are really happy for me and they are pleased that I'm doing it.

Mrs Maguire added: "Some of George's friends are real lads, but he has had them doing pirouettes in the playground."

The three boys, who say they are "great friends" spent eight weeks living together in London while they took part in dance workshops.

For the six months they are in the show, they will also live apart from their parents and be cared for by chaperones.

George's father Glen, a company director, said: "He is really enjoying himself and that's what matters most."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear from the three young actors sharing the role



SEE ALSO:
Billy Elliot stage stars unveiled
05 Oct 04 |  Entertainment
Brit film tops TV movie ratings
04 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Hunt for Billy Elliot stage stars
06 Feb 04 |  Entertainment
Jamie's dance to fame
06 Feb 01 |  Entertainment
Stephen Daldry's hour arrives
31 Dec 03 |  Entertainment


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