Paper Arts: Mann shines under the spotlight in “Billy Elliot”

Seventh grader defines “triple threat” as he leaps, acts and sings his way onto center stages everywhere

There’s a faint pitter patter of clacking footsteps behind the illuminated door.

A rising star is about to emerge: twelve-year-old Jamie Mann ’21 of Bedford Middle School.

Mann starred in the Florida regional production of “Billy Elliot” as Billy at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. Now at Company Theatre in Norwell, Massachusetts, he will reprise the role in June at the Palace Theatre in New Hampshire.

When the spotlight shines on Mann, he’s at ease. “You go on stage and you get these butterflies that are kind of flying out of you,” Mann said.

His passion for acting began at the age of three when he saw a production of “Swan Lake” in Madrid, Spain. “I remember just sitting there mesmerized. It was beautiful,” Mann said with a sparkle in his eyes.

At the age of seven, Mann went to see the Broadway production of “Billy Elliot” for the first time.

For Mann, it was love at first sight. “I knew I immediately wanted to play Billy,” Mann said. “[Billy’s] kind of creative, and he doesn’t really care what people think.”

During his time at Alvin Ailey Boys Athletic Dance Program in New York City, one of the Broadway “Billy Elliot” cast directors scouted Mann to audition for the ongoing tour. ” The scout helped in guiding Mann to prepare to audition for the creative team, but the tour closed just as Mann was scheduled to audition.

Mann went on to play Billy in the Florida regional production of “Billy Elliot.”

Every week, Mann spends up to 24 hours in rehearsals and classes, perfecting his technique and the role of Billy.

“There are so many numbers. I don’t know any other show that is as rigorous,” Mann said, flexing his toes back and forth against his bedframe.

With his packed schedule come sacrifices; however, his family has been supportive.

“My three siblings barely see [our] mom, and they’re really nice about it. I couldn’t ask for better siblings,” Mann said, looking at his brother with a smile.

“It’s a challenging path, in more ways than just the dicipline and sweat,” Mann’s mother, Jill, said.

Mann believes the reason his siblings are so supportive is that they also share his passion for dance. His younger brother, Cameron,  plays  Aladdin at  the Center  Stage Theater Company in Westport  

“Jamie inspires me with my acting,” Cameron said.

As Mann looks to the future, he has big plans ahead.

“I’ll probably start to get a lot more serious about dance. I want to be in a company,” Mann said. He wants to enter the New York City Ballet and also plans to continue acting in his future.