It requires a very talented actor to take a small role and make it huge!!! If I am honest, there are very few people, who in my mind that have the ability to do just this. However, there is someone who springs to mind... an actor who has just this evening played out their final night in Billy Elliot the Musical at London's Victoria Palace Theatre. A boy who injects so much passion and energy into his role, it captivates the audiences heart and mind each and every time he takes to the stage. What you may be surprised to hear is that this is not a Billy, nor a Michael. I am talking about Jonathan Danciger who plays the role of Tall Boy. Now on paper this role is rather small, but in reality, a part in any show is what you make of it, and Jonathan is out there to get noticed!
I have always been fond of Jonathan's performances. One of my drama teachers once told me, the key to acting is to be believable within the role in which you are casted. This is what Jonathan has down to a fine art. I think the most notable example of this is during the Royal Ballet scene where he plays a posh upper class child named Tom, who tries to console Billy after what was a less than successful audition. Billy's response is to beat him up! When Jonathan goes to ground there is always a huge audience reaction... a gasp of fear. There is that split second where the entire auditorium fears the worst, thinking something may have gone wrong. He is so convincing, that even having seen him several times I still worry when i see him go down. My heart genuinely skips a beat! No other boy I have seen in the role has ever managed to generate such a reaction. This alone is a testament to how real Jonathan's acting comes across.
So what else sets Jonathan aside from the rest of the crowd? When I see some actors in theatrical productions, I cant help but think they are up there simply because it pays the bills rather than because they love to act. This can leave a performance seeming somewhat hollow and empty. But this is where Jonathan differs. Every line is delivered with such passion and confidence, you really do notice his presence on the stage. His love of acting radiates from each and every character he plays and it always makes for a better all round performance.
Even when he is not at the forefront of the scene, he manages to find a way to bring the character to life. An example of this is in "The Stars Look Down", where his interaction with Michael (particularly when played by Connor Doyle) adds depth to the scene which is normally overlooked by other boys playing the same role. His body language always tells a story and he picks the perfect facial expressions to capture the moment. It is these little touches he adds throughout which puts him in a league of his own!
So as you can see Jonathan sets himself some very high standards, and at tonight's final performance he was not going to let them slip. A faultless show from start to end, and as the curtain fell, I was left wondering whether anyone could fill his shoes. I knew at this point I would really miss seeing him perform, that was for sure. But behind every grey cloud is a blue sky, and for me that was the realisation that he can now go further, he can aim higher and fulfil his dream to perform. Jonathan can leave this show with his head held high, knowing he has delivered some fine performances.
I guess in short his role may not be as big as that of Billy or Michael but one thing is for sure his ability to act far exceeds that of some people in larger roles, which is why I don't think it will be too long before we see Jonathan back on the big stage. Whats more, off the stage he is such a genuinely nice guy who has the time for everyone. I am privileged to have seen such an awesome performer and even more privileged to have met him and his wonderful family who are all so supportive of his talents.
So in conclusion Jonathan has been an inspiration to me. Performances like his are what keep me going. I can look back and learn so much from him, and as I move forward in my quest to act these very same performances will be my motivation. So thank you Jonathan for all your hard work, so many great shows and for being a huge inspiration to me. I hope you achieve everything in life that you have worked for and so very much deserve.