Backstage with… David Massey, Company Manager | Billy Elliot The Musical


My name’s David Massey and I’m the Company
Manager here at Billy Elliot in London. It’s very difficult to explain what a company
manager does because it’s a job that encompasses lots of different areas. But in brief I’m the senior management’s representative
at the theatre, so I’m in charge of all the people who work for Billy Elliot in the Victoria
Palace Theatre so that’s the cast, the creative team, the production staff, including all the children. So the daily life of a company manager here
is quite different from any other show because we have a massive cast of children. So the day-to-day running would be checking
that the children are ok, making sure that they go to their rehearsals on time because
they rehearse every day of the week in different venues around London,
booking studios, scheduling the children, checking that the cast are ok and booking
in their holidays, doing the payroll so I pay everybody’s wages who works here,
and generally just overseeing the day-to-day running of the show. Billy Elliot is very unique from other
shows in London, in fact from other shows in the whole world because the central character
is played by a 12 or 13 year old boy. So that creates loads of different issues
that you wouldn’t have in another show because you wouldn’t have to make sure that the child
was fully trained and often the kids we pick have no training at all and we teach them
everything here. And so we also have the logistics of making
sure they have their rehearsals and their schooling and that they have their home breaks,
and so all the kids are happy as well as rehearsing the adult cast which have quite a strenuous
show. Other shows may rehearse for 8 weeks and then
the cast go on and then they’re left alone to do their show for their year’s contract.
But this show we rehearse for 8 weeks, sometimes with the children they’ve been rehearsing
for a year, until they come into the show, and then we
continue to rehearse. So we rehearse every day making sure the show
is really tight and we’re making sure that all the other children who are joining the show,
at various points throughout the year, are comfortable and know what they’re doing. So, this is uniquely massive organisation because
we have rehearsals every single day of the week here at the theatre. My favourite part of being a company manager
here on this show is going around the dressing rooms and speaking to the cast and the kids.
Especially the children during the show, because we have a team of children onstage and a team
of children offstage on standby. So it’s really good fun to go up to their
dressing room and watch telly with them or have a chat and see what they’ve been doing
during the day because they are all amazing. Billy Elliot means a great deal to me because
it’s been one of the best jobs I’ve ever done in my career.
But I think the messaging of the show is really important. I think it’s a universal message,
and I think that’s why people still come to the theatre night
after night because they leave with hope in their hearts after seeing this kid’s amazing
journey.

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