Billy Elliot the Musical, the Tony Award-winning stage adaptation of the film about a boy’s love of dance and the struggle with his family’s expectations during a coal miners’ strike in northern England, arrives in San Jose May 7. What makes this Silicon Valley run presented by Broadway San Jose especially memorable is that one of the cast members, Jeffrey Pew, is a San Jose native.

“I’ve always been involved in the arts,” says Pew. “I grew up in San Jose and come from a musical family. My dad is a pianist, and I started learning piano from a young age. I went to Castillero Middle School, and then Lincoln High School, where I did music and theater.”

He attributes “a lot of my early success to some excellent training from my teachers in San Jose. After that, I went to college at Brigham Young University.” Pew was raised a Mormon and did his two-year mission in Madrid. “Then I moved to New York. I don’t exactly how I got here, but I was passionate for it, and had a lot of support along the way.”

Unlike most Broadway hopefuls, Pew says that even as he was auditioning for parts, he also managed to build a second career as a piano accompanist, most notably for the American Ballet Theater and the Mark Morris Dance Group. “It’s something where I can be master of my own artistic piano thing,” he explains. “The only thing that I have to do is make sure the time signature is right and the feel of the song is right to facilitate the dancers. It’s turned into something I really love that allows me to make some money on the side.”

Pew says that he had just finished working the summer series at the Sacramento Music Circus, when he went to an open call for Billy Elliot the Musical. He got the offer on a Sunday night and started rehearsals the next morning in Manhattan.

Normally, he is a singer/dancer in the show, but he also understudies the role of Tony, the older brother and one of the leads. Lucky for local audiences, Pew will be playing Tony in San Jose on Thursday, May 9 and the matinee on Saturday, May 11. “I love the role,” he says, “and I don’t get to do it very often, but I’m really glad I get to play it in San Jose. To have a load of friends and family come see, will just be awesome.”

He adds, with a sense of relief, “and after being in Canada for a month, where it was freezing, it’s good to be back in California.”

Billy Elliot the Musical
May 7-12
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts for tickets