Stage Door: Billy Elliot, chatting with Susie McMonagle

Billy Elliot might just be the hottest musical touring the nation these days. I mean who doesn’t want to watch in awe as 13-year-old dancing phenomenon, Billy Elliot flies up into the sky spinning and twirling with ease and dances almost effortlessly across the stage each night. If anything it’s enough to just make your flat-out jealous. The national tour of Billy Elliot rolled into to town and how surprised was 303 Magazine to find out that leading lady, Susie McMonagle, hails from our very own little rectangle of a state.

How familiar with Billy Elliot were you when you started the show?

I had heard good things about the show, so when I was in New York City for a weekend I went to see it. I was floored, and moved and determined to be a part of it!

Had you seen the film version?

Yes I did, and loved it. I remember letting my son Jack watch it when he was about six despite the language — I figured it was in a heavy accent and he wouldn’t notice.


Tell us about your role in the show?

I play Billy’s dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson.  She runs a little dance school in the town recreation center ( it also doubles as a boxing gym…!). She is a bit rough around the edges, but  is determined to teach these kids about dance.  No great students until Billy…
How do you think Billy Elliot will stand the test of time?

It’s timeless really. It’s a story about a boy who has a dream. Not a typical dream for someone in his town, but his family and friends rally around him. They push him and challenge him and love him. That’s what it takes to get there!


Do you have a favorite moment in the show?

That changes constantly.  I actually love watching Billy from the wings as he dances his way through “Electricity”.  It helps me with my next scene with him.


How do you feel about performing in Colorado, since you are from here?

It is awesome to be home and performing at the Denver Center.  Certainly a dream of mine when I was just getting started acting in plays at Heritage High School. It’s also great to be around my family.


Do you share any similarities with your character?

Hmmm.  Sure.  I think as actors we bring a lot of ourselves to the roles we play.  The fun part is also playing things that are not similar!!!
Which character do you relate to the most?

Mrs. Wilkinson
Who or what inspired you to pursue theater?

I had a wonderful choir director in High School – Mr. Hillock.  He was very no-nonsense and brilliant really. He set the bar very high. Our choir was singing all sorts of music.  I worked hard for him and learned so much.  He didn’t say it very often, but I knew in my heart that he recognized my talent and supported me moving on to study theater in college.  I did and here I am. I will always be grateful for having him as my teacher.

What have you learned most from this particular tour?

I came into this company having already performed the role.  It is great to be able to add more layers.  It’s a great group of people.
What is it like working with multiple Billy’s?

Absolutely WONDERFUL.  It keeps me on my toes and keeps the show very fresh for everyone.  Each boy has something special that they add to their interpretation of Billy.  It’s just awesome to watch!  You can’t believe how talented these kids are.

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