Though most of the attention falls on the Billy role, Jacob has received some compelling reviews himself, such as "Jacob Zelonky is thoroughly amusing as Billy's offbeat and scrappy pal" in one publication, and "sure to be an audience favorite is Jacob Zelonky" in another.Already a veteran of community and professional theater, Jacob had to prepare extensively for his first big tour:
"They got me a tap coach in Memphis," Jacob says. "She coached me five days a week. I had to learn 13 years worth of tap dancing in a few months."
He also had to master the tricky accent common to northern England's coal country. The show's producers demanded that the actors sound like authentic Durham County denizens.
"It took a while to learn," Jacob says. "We had dialect coaches who sat with us and went through every line, and taught us how to say things correctly."
And finally, Jacob had to learn a little something about donning women's clothing. "It was little complicated at first," he laughs. "I didn't know if I should step into the dress or put it over my head."
While "Billy Elliot" continues to tour, Jacob is preparing for his bar mitzvah in November. For his required service project, he has been visiting Jewish assisted-living facilities and singing songs for the residents. He won't be in Memphis for the big day, but his family and friends will make the trip to St. Louis to hear him chant Torah.