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Kent teen star in London meets Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Elton John

Adam Vesperman, of Kent, is the second from the right of the five Billy Elliot
Adam Vesperman, of Kent, is the second from the right of the five Billy Elliot's who joined Elton John, center, on stage in London.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO, David Barker

A Kent teen starring in a London musical doubted his manager who told him Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie wanted to see him after the show.

"I didn't really believe him," said Adam Vesperman, who plays the lead role in "Billy Elliot the Musical" at the Victoria Palace Theatre, in an email interview.

Vesperman, who turned 14 on June 11, didn't even know the couple and four of their six children were in the audience for the May 12 matinee. They simply sat in regular seats.

But sure enough, Vesperman followed his manager David Massey to a private spot in the theatre where he met the couple and their kids.

"They had just seen my show and I was so excited to have the opportunity to perform for two incredible actors," Vesperman said. "They were so nice, normal and real."

Vesperman's accent he developed for the show caught Pitt and Jolie by surprise.

"We chatted for a few minutes and they realized I actually had an American accent," Vesperman said. "I have a British Geordie accent throughout the show, so they assumed I was British. They asked where I was from. I told them Seattle, Washington and they were a bit in shock by that."

The celebrity couple definitely took an interest in Vesperman and his background.

"They asked me about living in London, my education, my family and training," he said. "I couldn’t believe that they were treating me like I was a star and it felt very good."

Robyn Vesperman talked to her son the day after he met the famous celebrity couple.

"I could tell the excitement still in his voice even after another half of a day had passed," Robyn Vesperman said in an email. "I am so happy that Adam perceived them as really nice and normal. People to look up to that are not above showing their appreciation and respect for the artistry of others."

Now with more than 90 shows to his credit, Vesperman continues to soak in the experiences of a lifetime in the one year he's been in London.

A few weeks after meeting Pitt and Jolie, Vesperman met Elton John, who wrote the music for Billy Elliot. John attended the May 30 show that marked the seventh year of the production and 3,000th show. Vesperman, who alternates the lead role with others, didn't play Billy that performance.

But Vesperman joined the other Billy's on stage with John for a special finale. They each got to meet John as well.

"He is so nice and real, like a next-door neighbor," Vesperman said. "After the show, we posed for pictures in front of a huge Billy Elliot cake. It was hilarious when Elton John put his hand on my head and shoved my face in the cake. Then everyone joined in and we all had faces full of frosting."

Although Vesperman didn't get to meet Queen Elizabeth II, he performed as Billy June 2-3 at the Family Festival at Hyde Park to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee for her 60 years as Queen.

"The crowds were a lot bigger than the Victoria Palace Theatre that seats 1,500 - it was more like 10,000 plus," he said. "It was an honor to perform in the show and help celebrate this great achievement for the Queen."

Vesperman, who started dancing at age 7 at the Allegro Performing Arts Academy in Kent, thinks a lot about his hometown and wanted to wish all of the dancers at the academy best of luck at the July 6-12 West Coast Dance Explosion in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas always will hold a special memory for Vesperman because in 2010 during a break in the West Coast Dance Explosion competition, he auditioned for Billy Elliot. A couple of months he was called back for final auditions in New York.

The Kent teen's stay in London includes another huge event as well.

"I am also looking forward to the excitement in London during the Olympic Games and hope that a lot of visitors take some time in between events to come and see Billy Elliot," he said. "We will be here ready to entertain."

Chad and Robyn Vesperman have watched their son entertain the crowd numerous times. One of them visits London each month. They also keep in touch via phone calls and Skype.

"Every time we see Adam in the show, we beam with pride and it puts everything into perspective," Robyn Vesperman said.

That includes the decision to let their son leave home at age 13 to work on a London stage.

"I cannot say it is easy to let your child live apart from you in another country, to perform on a prestigious stage and in one of the most demanding roles in the entire West End," Vesperman said. "The thought is kind of numbing and floats between reality and dream mode. And in between, we spend time planning for the next trip.

"But when you see your child presented with such an amazing opportunity and you know that child can physically and mentally handle the challenges it presents, you take a million things into consideration and make the best decision you can."

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