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'Billy Elliot': Broadway producers snub one of their own young stars

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There’s been much talk about the record 15 Tony nominations for Billy Elliot: The Musical and the unusual joint Best Actor nomination for the three young actors rotating in the title role. (Last week, The New York Times reported on a controversial ruling that Tony voters could vote for the Billys without seeing all three performances.)

But there has been relative silence on another curiosity concerning the Tony front-runner:

the fact that although two actors switch off in the role of Billy’s

best friend, Michael, only one of them got a nomination for Featured

Actor in a Musical. The nod went to David Bologna (left), the 14-year-old who performed on the

show’s opening night last fall (as the Tony rulebook dictates). But that leaves poor Frank Dolce (right),

the 13-year-old who sings and dances and cross-dresses up a storm in half the

performances, out in the cold. Why? Because apparently the producers

screwed up. According to a spokesperson for the Tony Awards, the

show’s producers never submitted a request to the Tony Awards’ administration

committee for a special ruling to consider both boys eligible (as they

successfully did for the three Billys, who earned joint eligibility on

Feb. 12). A spokesperson for Billy Elliot says that while the role of Billy is so physically demanding that one boy couldn’t do it eight shows a week, “you couldn’t make the same case for the role of Michael” and so producers didn’t make a special eligibility request. The spokesperson declined to say whether the producers regret that oversight now. One suspects that Bologna’s nomination might have just taken them by surprise (the London production’s Michael didn’t get an Olivier Awards nod). Still, the omission seems all the more glaring now that all five boys have been drafted to promote the show in a series of pre-Tony events.