BWW Interviews: Cullen R. Titmus is Excited to Bring BILLY ELLIOT to the Wharton Center
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by Katie Laban
Cullen R. Titmas is a touring veteran and still gets excited for every city he performs in. "Tour life is fun," he says and he is excited to bring Billy Elliot the Musical to the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. "It's a unique show that anyone can enjoy," Titmas says. The show is set in a small English town and follows the young boy Billy as he follows his dreams to becoming a ballet dancer that changes his own life and the lives in his community.
The Colorado native, who resides in New York City when he is not on tour, loves his character of Tony, the older brother of Billy. "I like to think of Tony as sort of a pivotal character in relation to Billy, who, of course, is the main story," he says. "At first when Billy is becoming a dancer and starting ballet, it is not looked upon as a great idea in this community of lower class miners. Tony is the last person to switch from being completely angry at the fact that his little brothers want to do it, into accepting and supporting it this kid. All the miners are on strike and can barely afford to eat, but support Billy, and Tony is the last one to switch, so I feel like he is pivotal in that respect." Titmas describes Tony as a worker who believes in his union, the strike, and his job. "Tony is kind of hard core about his beliefs," he says, "but eventually, he has to give in to support this kid so the kid can follow his dream."
One aspect that makes Billy Elliot the Musical stand out from other shows is the children that are in the production. "All of the kids on the road with us are extraordinary kids," says Titmus. "They are regular kids in a way, but they are super talented, very smart, and even speak different languages; just extraordinary kids. Sometimes it can be a lot to work with kids, but in a way they bring a lot of joy to the show, backstage, off stage, and the whole tour."
Titmas previously spent time on tour with Avenue Q and as an ensemble member with the Billy Elliot tour. "Going from ensemble to principle always feels really good," he says. The principle role also requires less dancing from him. "I'm mostly just acting in this track and I enjoy being able to focus on that," he says.
After being on tour with different productions, Titmas is getting re-visit cities he has already been too. "Most of these places on tour I've been to before, so it's great to get to go back to places that I have found that I like," he says. Titmas is returning to East Lansing and looking forward getting to explore the city while on this tour stop because he did not have much of a chance last time. "The campus area seems fun and I am excited to see what it has to offer."
Titmas is even more thrilled to bring Billy Elliot to the Wharton Center because he feels it is such a unique show in all aspects. "It's not like a typical Broadway show because it's written in a way to where it's really good at lifting you up and also there's a darkness to it as well. You will cry. You will laugh. It will move you in some way because it's such a feel good story," he says. "I think it's sort of has something for everyone. It's an incredible, uplifting story of a kid that is sort of in a dead end town who wants to be something different."