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Ben Cook, who played the title character in the Broadway show Billy Elliot for three years, was the guest instructor recently for a master class at Lisa Mennilli Dance Studio.
Mr Cook was also the Broadway productions of Newsies, Ragtime, and Tuck Everlasting. He is currently rehearsing for Tina Fey’s new Broadway musical Mean Girls. He has many TV credits to his name, and resides in New York City. In between Broadway shows he studies theater, voice and dance, and goes on many auditions.
“I asked Ben to come to the studio because I thought he would be a great inspiration for all of the dance students attending the program,” said Lisa Mennilli, owner and instructor at the South Main Street dance studio that bears her name. The dance studio recently relocated into Highland Plaza. “He’s only 19 years old and his aspiration in life is the same as most of the other kids in my studio. They love the arts and they love to dance.
“Ben is someone the kids can look up to and aspire to be like,” she added. “He’s accomplished a lot in his life in only 19 years, so I thought he was perfect example of what it’s like to follow your dreams. When you have passion and love for something, you can do anything you want to do or be. He is a perfect example of that.”
According to Ms Mennilli, Mr Cook taught a group of 30 dancers, all students of her studio, a choreographed piece to one of the songs from Newsies. He also discussed his theater life with the students, and sat with them for a question-and-answer session.
“He is extremely talented but ever so humble and very well spoken,” said Ms Mennilli. “He is a great model for all the young boys and girls that aspire to be Broadway performers or a part of the musical theater community.
“He pointed out that being nice and kind is the secret to success in this business,” she said.