On Being Dad


Richard Hebert, who plays the pivotal and moving role of Dad in the national tour of Billy Elliot The Musical—a Broadway Sacramento presentation, April 9–14 at the Community Center Theater—is telling me that, at 56 years old, “I really don’t have a great longing to be a star. I just love having the work.”

He also loves being in Sacramento, as this is where his 7-year-old daughter, Neely, lives with her mom. “She’s an extraordinary little girl,” he says in his gravelly warm actor’s voice, recounting a recent benefit concert at which she joined him and such show business luminaries as Robin Williams and Dana Carvey onstage for a singalong finale. “Tony Orlando, the emcee, put the microphone in front of her,” Hebert recalls, “and she grabbed it and said, ‘Hi evrybody, I’m Neely!’ She ended up signing about 40 autographs after the show.”

Hebert has been touring with Billy Elliot for the past three years. At the beginning of the show’s second act, he sings a heartbreaking showstopper, “Deep Into the Ground,” a widower’s lament that he says “sounds like an Irish folk song. It has a quality that makes people think they’ve heard it before.”

Tickets for the show, which won 10 Tony Awards in 2009, are available at the Community Center Theater’s box office at 1301 L St., the Wells Fargo Pavilion box office at 1419 H St. or at tickets.com. Tell ’em Neely sent you.