The Fame Reporter interviewed multi-talented Australian performer, Drew Livingston who recently starred as Billy’s brother – Tony in Billy Elliot the Musical. Billy Elliot played its final performance of the Australian Tour in Melbourne on 15 March at the Regent Theatre.
Drew has appeared and performed on stages all around Australia including the hugely popular Once at the Darlinghurst Theatre and the Australian tour of the National Theatre’s global phenomenon War Horse. Other theatre credits include Bell Shakespeare’s Henry V (for which he also composed the music earning him a Sydney Theatre Award); Sport for Jove’s The Hollow Crown and The War of the Roses, Macbeth, Cyrano de Bergerac, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet; Hot House Theatre/Sport for Jove’s The River at the End of the Road; Ensemble Theatre’s Taking Steps and Good People; Titus Andronicus for Cry Havoc.
Drew was also part of the cast in the highly acclaimed Sydney Theatre Company’s Under Milk Wood. He has also performed at the Sydney Opera House, playing Terry in The 52 Storey Treehouse and Babies’ Proms for CDP Theatre Producers. On television, Drew has appeared in Channel 9’s Tricky Business. Drew is also an accomplished musician and composer. He graduated from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) Acting course in 2010.
We talked to Drew about his passion for performing as well as writing music, his brotherly relationship with the boys that play Billy, the impact of the show on audiences and more.
See our interview below!
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Drew, what sparked your interest in performing initially?
It was one of the few things I was good at when I was a kid and I really enjoyed it.
What about Billy Elliot the musical enticed you to want to tell this story, especially through the character of Tony?
Tony is a very passionate character whose drive for social justice I find extremely compelling.
He [Tony] loves his family, his community and his country and is not shy about it. I love that I get to sink my teeth into that every night.
What is your ultimate favourite moment in the show?
My favourite song in the show is a song called “Once We Were Kings”, it’s about all the miners expressing their collective pride in their community and who they are. It is a great song to belt out at the end of the show.
What do you believe is important and integral about Tony and Billy’s relationship?
They are brothers for a start.
I think sometimes we can cope with criticism and judgement from the outside world, but when it comes from family, it can cut much deeper.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging parts about performing in this iconic show?
I trained as an actor and so the dancing I have to do in this show was a real challenge.
Using a different part of my brain, and body [for dancing], to tell the story has been somewhat terrifying but extremely rewarding.
What has it been like working with and getting to know the four boys who play Billy?
It has been amazing, the boys are so talented and getting to know them both on and offstage has been a treat. I have learnt so much from them.
Do you have a role in theatre that you are dying to play?
Hamlet. Because it’s Hamlet!
How would you describe Elton John’s legendary music in the show?
Well it’s Elton John! So it’s a case study in catchy pop songs. But, in saying that, one thing I love about the songs is that their primary function is to serve the story.
If you could gender-bend any stage role what would it be and why?
I would love to see a female Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar because I think it would be really interesting.
Were the fight scenes difficult to do initially, how did you rehearse for those moments in the show?
I really enjoy doing fight scenes. We had a wonderful fight director named Scott Witt who I have worked with a number of times.
He [Fight Director, Scott Witt] is very good at working with our strengths and creating something visually spectacular but very safe.
What do you love about the choreography in the show and what do you think is special about it?
What I like about the choreography is that it is based on real movements. When we dance as miners, we don’t look like trained ballerinas (luckily for me) we look like dancing miners.
What have you learned about yourself and society whilst performing in the show?
I have learnt that I am capable of more than I thought I was.
What you do love about writing and composing music?
The satisfaction of creating something outside of yourself. It is such a great feeling when you are listening to something you have created, especially when it is in the context of a show.
Congrats for winning a Sydney Theatre Award, what was like writing for Bell Shakespeare’s Henry V?
It was incredible. It was such an ambitious production and I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work with an incredible cast and group of creatives. So much of that music was written and created in the rehearsal room, which was quite a unique experience.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Ricky Gervais, Judi Dench & Stephen Fry.
Why do you think Billy Elliot the musical resonates with people from all walks of life?
The show is about belonging.
Belonging to family, belonging to community and even to country. I think that is something everyone can relate to.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Favourite mantra when you are down
Do the work
Favourite song today
Lost in Paris – Tom Misch
Dream co-star to work with
Once? Great songs
Any secret talents
Very good at picking which window we are going to look through on Play School.
West Side Story
Bell Shakespeare’s Henry V
Dressing Room necessity
Favourite song in Billy Elliot
Once We Were Kings
Under Milk Wood
Fishing boat, bobbing sea
Can’t live without
A guitar nearby
Place you want to travel to
Australian theatre scene
One man show
TV Show Binge
Finally, favourite thing about performing
Exploring heightened emotions
Thank-you Drew for joining us at The Fame Reporter and congratulations on a fantastic run in Billy Elliot the musical.
Billy Elliot the musical played its final performance of the Australian Tour in Melbourne on 15 March at the Regent Theatre.
Head to https://billyelliotthemusical.com.au/ for further information.
All photos and videos – Supplied