THEATERMANIA: Had you seen Billy Elliot before you joined the cast?
WILL CHASE: When I got the call asking if I wanted to replace Santino Fontana, I hadn't actually seen the show yet. . I knew it was a big fat hit but that doesn't always mean great theater. So I went and sat in the third row, and I was blown away. For me, the show is not slick in that traditional Broadway way.
TM: What attracted you to the role of Tony?
WC: There's no singing! When I was watching it I was thinking it was just a great acting role. After you've been doing musical theatre for fifteen years and singing your face off -- and don't get me wrong, I love to sing -- it was great to have this meaty acting role that is a catalyst for Billy.
TM: Do you feel welcome to bring your own take to the role as a replacement?
WC: It can be weird, because when you first start doing the show you do the essence of what the person before you was doing. Then, depending on the show and the director, it becomes your own thing over time. Of course I have my own take on things, every actor should. This role has been the easiest coming in to replace; the hardest was probably replacing Patrick Wilson in The Full Monty because that was such a tight group of guys who relied so much on each other. There was a long while when I didn't want to replace anyone, but seeing this show pumped me up. I want to see theater that moves me and I want to be in theater that moves people.
TM: Was it a challenge to learn the Northern English dialect?
WC: That accent is literally one of the hardest things I've had to do. It's close to the Liverpoolian that I did for Lennon. The thing is that it doesn't always follow the rules that we actors have for British accents. There's a little bit of Scottish in there for instance.
TM: Does your performance change depending on who is playing Billy?
WC: Yes, a bit, because they each have different sensibilities. It forces me to do what we do as actors, to listen and to react. For me, it's the fun of the show - listening, breathing, reacting to whoever is on as Billy that day. And I think those kids are all amazing.