Rising Star: Billy Nevers

Friday, February 16, 2024

This young, versatile performer is living his best life as Lafayette/Jefferson in the new tour of Hamilton

Billy Nevers
Billy Nevers


Still only 22, Billy Nevers has been working professionally since 2019 when he was plucked out of ArtsEd to appear in the ensemble of Timothy Sheader’s Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS) at the Barbican. He then went straight into & Juliet, first in Manchester and afterwards in London, appearing as a swing, then as first cover François, then as François (‘I rinsed out every opportunity there was with that show!’ he jokes). When & Juliet closed briefly during the pandemic, Nevers returned to Sheader’s JCS, this time at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre where the production first originated. In 2022, he returned to the venue as ensemble/cover Emmett in Lucy Moss’s Legally Blonde, a production he remains ‘very proud’ to have been a part of. There followed a stint as Fred in Groundhog Day at the Old Vic this summer where Nevers got to pursue his passion for ‘character acting, comedy, dancing, and working with wonderful people’. Which brings us to Hamilton – for Nevers, ‘the ultimate dream to come true’.

Theatrical beginnings

Growing up in Surrey, with a mother who trained as an actress and who currently teaches drama at a college where she’s also head of performing arts, Nevers took local dance classes and then joined Songtime Theatre Arts (now British Theatre Academy, or BTA) from the age of seven. At school, he struggled academically and happily moved to Italia Conti to take his GCSEs. He won a Musical Theatre scholarship to ArtsEd for sixth form, and was due to continue there on the three-year degree course, but ultimately that wasn’t to be…


Nevers knew his heart wasn’t in doing a degree so, while still in Year 13, he auditioned for ’every show under the sun’ and did so well (‘I was in the finals for Simba in The Lion King’) that he decided to brave it in the professional world. He landed JCS, and then, through his friend Grace Mouat – who he’d met at National Youth Music Theatre – he met the casting director of & Juliet. The show was a real learning curve. ‘I was a deer in the headlights,’ he recalls. ‘To cover all six male ensemble tracks was daunting but so exciting. It was great for me to test my skills as a dancer, singer and ensemble member.’ By the time the show closed, he was playing François and ‘couldn’t have asked for anything more’.

Passion vs ego

‘In this industry, we put pressure on ourselves to show the world we’re blessed to be working,’ Nevers says. Groundhog Day was a crucial reminder for him to ‘lead with your passion, not your ego. People would say: “But your role’s not as big as François,” but François doesn’t sing in a part of the voice I like to sing in, and he doesn’t dance. Groundhog Day let me to fulfil these passions, and the Old Vic was a venue I’d always aspired to work in.’

Hamilton (finally!)

When the show first came out, the young Nevers was obsessed: ‘I’d sing it in the bathroom and on my way to school.’ It was, he says, ‘the first show I’d seen where I could see a version of myself onstage’.

When he first auditioned in Year 13, he made it all the way to the final. Every year since, he has auditioned, without success, for different tracks – but this year was different: ‘They only sent me the Lafayette/Jefferson material. And in the past, I’ve done so many rounds but this time it was only two or three.’ During rehearsals, Nevers says he was ’holding back tears’ on a daily basis. ‘I used to say that if I could do Hamilton, I’d call it quits,’ he confides.


Teaching is important to Nevers because, at school, he lacked role models: ‘I didn’t have teachers that looked like me, or spoke like me, or danced like me, or saw the world like me.’ He has seen the influence his mum has on young people in ‘changing perceptions of themselves’, and since Legally Blonde has seen positive changes within the industry, but he believes there’s still a long way to go. Nevers doesn’t take for granted the changes he can affect as a teacher and performer when it comes to the younger generation. As he puts it: ‘I want to show them that they’re so much more than the boxes we’re put into.’

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 / January 2024 issue of Musicals magazine. Never miss an issue – subscribe today