EAST HADDAM, Conn. (WTNH) — Meet Erica, John and Tess – all part of the cast of Billy Elliot: The Musical, currently delighting crowds at The Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam.

“It’s really really fun to do what you love alongside other people that love the same thing,” says 13-year-old Erica Parks of Massachusetts who plays Debbie. “All of us have become a really, really close family because we’re with each other all the time .”

The story revolves around a coal mining community in England in the 1980s.

“We were assigned a research project for the first day of rehearsal,” explains Parks, noting that this helped the young actors understand the profession. Tess Santarsiero, an 11-year-old from Old Saybrook, studied coal mining while 11-year-old John Martens of New Jersey learned about the era.

“A lot of people liked to wear leotards, crazy outfits,” he says with a smile.

“During that time period, Billy should have been going to boxing and doing what all the guys did but he really loved doing ballet,” says Santarsiero. So, Billy learns from his friend Michael that expressing yourself is the way to go! Martens steals the show during this inspiring number.

“Some people are having a tough time expressing themselves and it’s telling them it’s okay,” he says.

The musical is all about living your truth and that’s what these three are doing.

“I like being a kid actor because I like to be onstage,” says Martens. “I want to tell a story.”

“You have to pull [the audience] in and give them your best and you have to keep trying,” says Santarsiero.

When the curtain comes down, they’ll miss their time together on this historic stage.

“But hopefully we all get to do future projects together and we’ll all keep in touch on social media,” says Parks. “It’s going to work out!”

All three want to stick with acting into adulthood!

See these young talents through November 24th at The Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. Click here for more information.


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