On September 28th, triumphant stage show Billy Elliot went full circle, and was aired, live, on the big screen and aired in cinemas up and down the nation – and even abroad. Returning for this one-off, special performance was Liam Mower, who made a name for himself playing the eponymous lead on stage, now coming back to take on the same role again – yet a few years down the line…

So first of all can you tell me a bit about the character that you’re playing?

So, as I’m coming back to the show, I’m not playing Billy anymore but I’m coming back as older Billy. And he kind of comes into the story in the second half of the show. And it’s right when Billy is going through a really tough time. He’s had a bit of a rubbish Christmas and his family’s torn apart and his Dad’s depressed and, you know, he’s kind of got no one at that point. And he kind of goes into his head a little bit and he’s in the town hall and then a kind of dream sequence starts to unfold. And that’s when older Billy enters. And the dance that they do together, it’s all in Billy’s head and it’s kind of like a dream sequence but it’s him seeing himself in maybe ten, twelve years time. So that’s older Billy. And then they kind of do this lovely duet together and Billy flies at the end of it and it’s actually a really magical moment in the show.

How have you been preparing for the filmed performance happening on Sunday and have you been asked to do anything differently on stage to how you would normally perform?

I’ve been rehearsing for a couple of weeks now so I’ve had maybe two/three rehearsals every week for the past couple of weeks. It’s kind of strange because it came back to me almost immediately and I think when I was doing the show it was one of my favourite moments to do, was the dream ballet sequence. I think it’s always remained in my muscle memory, I don’t know what, but when I was going through it, it just kind of came back to me really quickly. And it actually didn’t seem like it changed that much either. I mean it was, I think some of it was more structured and counted but I guess that there’s been so many Billy’s now that’s important. It has to have a foundation but no, it hadn’t changed too much at all, it was fine.

So we know there’s going to be the special mash up at the end. Can you tell us anything more about that?

Yeah, so it’s only special for Billy Live. So it’s not something that’s in the show regularly. So they’re getting, I think it’s 27, past Billy’s, so that’s 27 Billy’s that’s performed. And they’re kind of cracking everyone together in a big special finale, I guess to kind of celebrate Billy Live and celebrate that there’s the tenth anniversary coming up next year so I guess there’s a lot of celebrating to do. So I think we’re certainly in for a treat. It’s so lovely for us to come back and return to our second home really but I think it’s a nice treat for everyone else as well.

With all of the rehearsing and everything that’s going on, that’s obviously very physically demanding. Do you have any routines or things that you go through to get yourself through that?

Kind of just make sure I eat properly; I think that’s really important. I mean I kind of eat what I want, I’m not saying I’m on a special diet, I’m not on dietary things. But I kind of eat well and eat what I want but eat kind of your fruit and veg and your greens and your five a day and just drink lots of water. And I just make sure I like stretch and warm up properly before my days work or else you’re going to get fatigued and your muscles start to ache. If you’ve just been pounding it all day and then you don’t treat your body right, you tend to feel achy the next day. And just sleep and kind of, maybe have one or two beers but don’t get too drunk. If you’re preparing for a performance I try not to over push the limits. If I was having a week off then I’d go out and get drunk or something but I can’t really do that when I’m in work.

This performance, rather than just being to the 1500 people in the theatre is going out all over the country and actually to quite a few other countries as well. How do you feel about that? Is there an added pressure?

There definitely is an added pressure. As the performance is going on, we are all going to treat it like a normal performance. I’m personally going to not try and think about the cameras and everything that’s there. But there certainly is going to be an added pressure, I think it’s hard to not think about that. I think what’s the most amazing thing about it though, with the audience, it’s not only the Victoria palace that’s seeing it its a much greater audience, and wider audience. And maybe people who necessarily wouldn’t get to the theatre or some people don’t have the opportunity to come to the theatre, can now go and see theatre at a cinema, their local cinema. Which I think is really lovely and a really amazing thing that’s happening.

Billy Elliot obviously addresses some very serious issues. What do you think it’s important for and audience to take away after they’ve seen it?

I think it’s a really inspiring show. And amongst all the chaos and the broken families and anger and hate and obviously what happened in the miners’ strike it’s still very raw for people. In the midst of all that there’s this young boy who’s just got this dream to dance. He’s got this fire, he’s got something. And it’s just a really amazing story and you’ll cry and you’ll laugh and you’re really taken through such an amazing story. And I think people feel there’s hope in it, people have hope in it and are inspired by it for sure. As well as it being a lovely musical.

You were in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake recently, and that’s obviously the ballet that Billy Elliot’s in at the end of the film. So how did playing the part in Matthew Bourne’s swan lake inform your role in Billy Elliot and is there a link to your own aspirations and life?

I think definitely what’s happened in my own life is mirrored in Billy’s life. I mean I have that swan lake connection, and I went to the royal ballet school when I was younger as well, which Billy finally gets into. It’s kind of come full circle and I promise you I didn’t plan for it to happen it just kind of happened. But I’d seen Matthew’s work, obviously for the very first time seeing the amazing Adam Cooper leap across at the end of Billy Elliot the movie. And that was really a moment for me where I was like wow that’s beautiful. But then I’d seen Matthew’s full production of Swan Lake in its entirety and I just fell in love. I’ve always know I wanted to dance, and I think I can certainly connect that with Billy because that’s exactly what Billy feels, he knows exactly what he wants to do. So I could relate to the character in that way. I’ve always known I’ve wanted to dance and seeing Matthew’s company and his work and it’s just exactly what I saw myself doing from a very young age. And so when it finally happened I couldn’t quite believe my luck really, it’s lovely.

Finally, were there any challenges you encountered returning to the show?

The flying. Because in dream ballet there’s a moment where Billy and older Billy dance together and then Billy’s kind of wired up onto this wire that’s centre stage and he flies. And it a really beautiful moment dancing together, and older Billy pretty much, I means there’s a fly man kind of doing automated things to make him go up and down, but that’s older Billy’s job to get him going in certain directions or get him spinning. I think that was tricky, being on the other end of the duet not being the one in the air, enjoying it, but being the one to control it. And that was quite challenging, I think I’ve got to grips with it now. I mean I hope so; I am performing it at the weekend so I need to get to grips with it.


Billy Elliot The Musical Live is out on Blu-ray and DVD now