Hartlepool school celebrates as fourth pupil lands Billy Elliott role

Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts pupil Demi Lee as Debbie in Billy Elliot the Musical at the Palace Theatre, London.
Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts pupil Demi Lee as Debbie in Billy Elliot the Musical at the Palace Theatre, London.

A HARTLEPOOL performing arts school is celebrating after their fourth pupil won a major part in the Billy Elliot the Musical in the West End.

Talented 10-year-old Demi Lee won the part of Debbie at her first audition just 18 months after joining the Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts.

She is now treading the boards in front of hundreds of theatre-goers at the Palace Theatre in London up to five times a week.

Demi gets to share the stage with Hartlepool youngster Ali Rasul, aged 12, who plays Billy and who also initially trained at Val Armstrong’s in Whitby Street South.

She is now the school’s fourth student to land a top part in the hit musical about a North Eastern lad who overcomes adversity to become a ballet dancer.

Demi’s role of Debbie has also been played by town teenager Fleur Houdijk, 15, who went on to star in Matilda the musical and this year’s All Stars movie.

The part has also been played by Val Armstrong pupil Emily Williams from Wingate.

School founder Val said: “Demi had only been dancing for 18 months when I sent her for the Billy Elliot audition with some of my other students.

“Within three weeks she had moved to London and was given the part and her reviews have been fabulous.

“The best thing is she is my fourth pupil to win a part in the show.”

Demi, from Middlesbrough, who lives with other cast members in London, said: “It’s really good but it is a lot of hard work.”