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Elton John World News: ''Billy Elliot'' Player to Extend His Run

''Billy Elliot'' Player to Extend His Run-- Posted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monday 12 June 2006 @ 18:13 - GMT

According to the June 10, 2006 Sentinel, a dancer has been rewarded for his show stopping performances as Billy Elliot with a new contract.

Leon Cooke,  who has been performing to sell-out audiences at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London since September, faced stiff competition from 5,000 other hopefuls to secure the role. He signed a contract which was supposed to end this month.

But the St John Fisher Catholic High School pupil has developed his skill and grown in confidence so much so that his mum, Joy, says his employers decided to keep him on.

She said: "Leon has just gone from strength to strength. I saw him perform last Saturday and he has really come on. That is the seventh time I have watched him live and it was by far his best performance.

The musical famously focuses on a boy from a mining village who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

And the show has attracted lots of celebrity interest, with Leon performing in front of the likes of Michael Jackson, Kevin Costner, David Hasselhoff and Goldie Hawn.

The teenager, who began dancing at the age of two, has also made television appearances, appearing recently with Elton on the Paul O' Grady show and executing a tap dance sequence.

Leon, who is one of eight siblings, has also been kept busy with invitations to award ceremonies.

To date he has attended the Theatregoers award night, presented accolades at the British Book award ceremony, and attended the Olivier Awards, where Billy Elliot won several awards.

Joy said: "Leon will probably come home in September, which may be for the best really because he has his GCSEs to sit, which are important.

It is difficult to say whether his contract will be extended yet again because he is getting a bit taller now and Billy's character is quite boyish looking.

"I'm sure of one thing, though, and that is that he will stay in touch with the other cast members - they are like one big family now and their friendship shows on stage.

"I am really proud of him, especially when I saw him in his last performance - he did a backwards somersault, which I have never seen him do on stage before.

"One fan told me that he had seen the show 100 times - that was no surprise because Leon and the rest of the cast have quite a big following.

"These days Leon doesn't ring me as much as he used to, which indicates to me that he is settled and happy.

"He only gets in touch now when something different has happened in his day.

"But I don't mind - he is busier now than ever before."