Billy Elliot: Euan Garrett takes West End by storm

Euan Garrett in Billy Elliot. Picture: Alastair Muir
Euan Garrett in Billy Elliot. Picture: Alastair Muir
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HE used to be into karate and rugby, but Euan Garrett was born to dance.

Now the 12-year-old, who took some convincing of the merits of ballet, has landed a role in London’s West End, starring in a world-famous production.

Euan with Deka Walmsley, who plays his father. Picture: Alastair Muir

Euan with Deka Walmsley, who plays his father. Picture: Alastair Muir

He gave up his quiet life in North Berwick earlier this year to undertake six months of intense training before taking to the stage of the Victoria Palace Theatre to play Billy Elliot last month.

And that only came after he was hand picked from hundreds of hopefuls who auditioned for the role from all over the country.

After three weeks of back-to-back performing, and having to learn how to tap dance from scratch, his parents have now recalled the moment they realised their son would be a star.

John Garrett, Euan’s dad, said: “Euan only started dancing when he was seven, but as soon as he did, we all knew he was born to dance.

I feel very special because only a few boys have played the part of Billy Elliot in London. I was just so excited when I found out I had got the role.

Euan Garrett

“We used to take him to rugby and karate, which he really enjoyed, and then he started a dance class at Law Primary School where he was a pupil.

“He really enjoyed it and after a few sessions, the teacher told us we ought to take him to professional dance classes because she could see talent.

“She recommended ballet, but Euan is a typical boy and at first, he said no – in his eyes that wasn’t cool.”

But in the months that followed, the youngster fell in love with dance, and decided to seek professional training.

He soon became a dedicated pupil at the Dunbar School of Dancing, where according to his dad, he formed a special relationship with his teacher, Julie Friar.

Mr Garrett added: “Euan’s relationship with Julie is like Billy’s relationship with his teacher in the film – she really encourages him.”

His mum, Dawn, added: “Euan and Julie spent hours preparing for his final audition together. It’s scary to think this time last year he was performing in his local dance display and now he’s on London’s West End. We are so proud of him.”

Before landing his West End role, Euan was also a Scottish Ballet Junior associate, and has performed in Lord of the Flies as well as Scottish Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.

Speaking of his debut as Billy, Euan said: “It’s just amazing because it’s always been my dream role.

“I feel very special because only a few boys have played the part of Billy Elliot in London. I was just so excited when I found out I had got the role.”

The musical is based on the film Billy Elliot that was released in 2000. It is set in County Durham during the UK miners’ strike when Billy, a young boxer, finds a love in ballet.

Euan is expected to play the role for at least a year.

Julie Friar, Euan’s former dance teacher, said: “As soon as Euan started dancing at my school I knew he had something special.

“Euan had a goal he wanted to achieve. It’s all about the work the pupils put in. It’s amazing one of my former students is now on the West End. I’m so proud of him.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com