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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Teenager lands Elliot stage role
Leon Cooke (left) and Joey Phillips, new stars of Billy Elliot
Leon Cooke (left) is looking forward to his new role
A teenager from Staffordshire has landed a dream role as the new star of Billy Elliot The Musical in London's West End.

Leon Cooke, 14, from Newcastle, will step into the shoes of the main character Billy at the Victoria Palace Theatre from 19 September.

He was spotted at the first auditions for the 5m musical in 2003.

The teenager will share his role with the original Billys, Liam Mower and George Maguire.

Fellow teenager Joey Phillips, 13, from Lytham St Anne's, near Blackpool, will also take up a starring role as Billy's best friend Michael.

Success story

Both Leon and Joey are graduates of the Billy Elliot Academy in Leeds, which was set up by the original film's director Stephen Daldry.

Leon is one of eight siblings and has been dancing since the age of two. His family are all keen dancers and his postman father also works part-time as a dance teacher.

Leon said: "My dad took me for lessons to see if I liked it or not. I really enjoyed it so I carried on going.

"When my sister Zena took me for the first audition in Manchester I had no idea that I would get through. It seems like a dream now that I've been chosen to play Billy and I'm really looking forward to it."

Billy Elliot The Musical opened in March and has been one of the West End's biggest success stories, playing to more than 250,000 people.

Mr Daldry said: "Leon has an exceptional combination of talents - he is an excellent ballet dancer, fantastic gymnast and contemporary dancer, and he can sing."

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