Local boy lands starring role in new Billy Elliot musical

Cristian on the promenade at Benajarafe during Easter Week.
Cristian on the promenade at Benajarafe during Easter Week. / E.C.
  • The 11-year-old actor from Benajarafe is now rehearsing for the show that will run at the Alcalá theatre in Madrid

A young actor from Benajarafe has secured the leading role in Billy Elliot the musical, which will premiere in Madrid in October.

Eleven-year-old Cristian López Zamanillo, who lives with his mum, 34-year-old Soraya Zamanillo and grandmother, Arganda del Rey, had been playing the part of the young Simba in Madrid’s The Lion King, but had to give up the role as he got older and his voice changed.

He is now preparing to be Billy Elliot, the character played by Jamie Bell in the 2000 film set in Newcastle during the miners’ strike in the 1980s. The young Billy Elliot achieves his ambition of becoming a professional ballerina with a London dance academy, despite the odds.

Cristian says that he is, “very excited” about landing the role, for which he is rehearsing four hours a day from Monday to Friday and says that some of the steps are “very complicated” and need to be “very polished”.

The young actor likes the “rebelliousness” of the character he will be playing, as well as his “will power” which sends out the message that “if you resolve to do something you can achieve it without worrying what others say.”

Cristian was trained in Malaga at the Escuela de Artes Escénicas ESAEM, but sees his future in Madrid “where the big musicals are”.

Peter Darling’s original film choreography is being used for this Spanish version of the show, for which tickets are already on sale.

The first performance will be in the Alcalá theatre in the Spanish capital on 5 October. Producers say that the theatre has had to undergo works to accommodate the show and therefore Billy Elliot is expected to run there for several years and will not be going on tour around the country.