Ocean State Theatre Company opens fifth season with premiere of `Billy Elliot: The Musical'

Johnston Sun Rise ·

Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC) has announced the opening of their fifth season in their comfortable stadium-style theatre in Warwick. The company's 2016-17 season begins with the Rhode Island Professional Premiere of the 10-time Tony Award-winning musical, Billy Elliot: The Musical, which opens in previews on September 28.

Sponsored by Charland, Marciano & Company, CPAs, LLP, Billy Elliot is the inspirational story of a young boy's struggle against the odds to make his dreams come true. Set in the UK, in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984-85 miners' strike, the story follows Billy's journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, where he discovers a passion for dance, which inspires his family and community and changes his life forever. Featuring a timeless score by Elton John, Billy Elliot: The Musical weaves together sensational dancing and a powerful story, which has captivated audiences around the world. It is a funny, uplifting and spectacular theatrical experience that will stay with you forever. Billy Elliot: The Musical contains adult content/language.

The production will be directed by Producing Artistic Director Amiee Turner, who is directing her 20th production for the company. John Jay Espino, who music directed previous OSTC productions of It's a Wonderful Life, Les Misérables and The King and I, returns as Musical Director and Rachel Bertone, whose choreography has been seen on stages in New York and Boston, is making her OSTC debut as the choreographer. In the lead role of Billy, Ocean State Theatre Company is thrilled to welcome Matthew Dean of California, who began dancing at the age of two and was recently awarded the title of Junior Mr. Dance of California 2016 and placed fifth in the 2016 NCBGA State Championships. He made his musical theater debut as Billy in Children's Musical Theater San Jose's Marquee Production of Billy Elliot last spring. Shannon Lee Jones of Boston, who appeared as Angelique in La Cage aux Folles on Broadway, will be making her OSTC debut in the role of Mrs. Wilkinson, the dance teacher. In the role of Dad, Christopher Swan of Vermont will return to OSTC having appeared in productions of 1776, Breaking Legs, Gypsy, Race, Legally Blonde, and The King and I. Zaven Ovian of Burlington, Mass. and Sarah Polen of Boston, who will portray Tony and Grandma respectively, are both making their OSTC debuts, along with Tony Weissinger of Hopkinton, Mass., who will be playing Billy's best friend, Michael. Other performers include JP Ferragamo of South Kingstown, Matthew Gorgone of Smithfield, Tess Jonas and Greg LoBuono of Boston, Brad Kirton and Tommy Labanaris of Coventry, Greg London of South Carolina, Melissa McKamie, Ashley Rubin and J. Morgan White of New York and Brian-Barry Pereira of Swansea, Mass. Local youth performers include Calista Heart Aguinaldo, Eva Senerchia and Grace Truslow of Warwick, Sophie Appel, Amaryllis Miller and Bobby Miller III of Cranston, Isabella Cardi and Victoria Cardi of North Kingstown, Grace Olah of Franklin, Mass, and Carly Williams of Bridgewater, Mass.

Billy Elliot: The Musical will be presented at Ocean State Theatre from September 28 - October 23. Previews are scheduled for Wednesday, September 28 at 7:30 pm and Thursday, September 29 at 2:00 and 7:30 pm. All other performances will be held Wednesday (except October 5), Thursday (except October 13 & 20), Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm, with matinees on Thursdays (except October 13 & 20), Saturdays at 2:00 pm (except October 1 & 8) and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Conducting Conversations Live!, a free post-show discussion hosted by WCRI's Mike Maino, will follow the 2pm performance on Sunday, October 2. This season's post show Piano Bar Series, will be held following Friday and Saturday evening performances in the theatre's lobby on October 7, 8, 14 and 15.

The theatre is located at 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick. Tickets are $39 for preview performances, $39-$59 for all other performances except Thrifty Thursday (October 6) when all tickets are priced at a $10 discount ($29-$49). $30 "Rush" tickets are available on a limited basis one hour prior to curtain on the day of the performance. Additional discounted rates may be available for groups of 10 or more by calling 921-1777 x112. Tickets are on sale at the box office Monday through Friday from 12 noon - 6:00 pm, Saturdays from 12 noon - 4:00 pm, and from 12 noon until curtain time on performance days. Tickets are also available online 24 hours a day at www.OceanStateTheatre.org and via telephone during normal box office hours by calling 921-6800.

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