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Billy Elliot - The Musical - If we succeed, then we’ll be presenting the unique experience of watching a new star literally developing before your eyes

Preview by Jack Foley

BILLY Elliot - The Musical, the adaptation of one of the best-loved British films of the last decade, with music by Sir Elton John, is to open at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre on March 11, 2005.

The same team that created the multi-Oscar-nominated film of writer Lee Hall and director Stephen Daldry, the choreographer, Peter Darling, and the original producer, Jon Finn, reconvenes to create this live venture.

Billy Elliot - The Musical is co-produced by Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, co-chairmen of Working Title Films, and theatre impresario, Sally Greene, from Old Vic Productions, along with Jon Finn.

It will also feature songs from Elton John.

Announcing details of the lavish productiion, Eric Fellner said, at a recent press conference: "As Billy Elliot - The Musical is our first foray into theatre, it was important to reunite the original creative force behind the film, but also to bring something new to the mix.

"It’s inspired by the film, but takes its own creative journey. Elton, Lee and Stephen make a remarkable team."

Sally Greene added: "Everyone who comes into contact with this show falls in love with the story and with Elton’s songs - it’s an unbeatable package."

Elton maintains he is 'extremely proud and excited to be working on Billy Elliot the stage musical', and went on to explain his empathy with the story when he first saw the film, in Cannes, in 2000.

"I was profoundly moved when I first saw it. Billy’s story, of growing up in a working class household and having artistic ambitions, has so many parallels with my own life.

"I cried my eyes out when Billy achieved his dreams with the full support of his family and friends."

As preparations continue in earnest for next year's debut, director, Stephen Daldry, has been leading the quest to identify the multi-talented young performers the show’s cast demands.

Over 3,000 boys have already been seen, and the musical’s appetite for new talent will remain high throughout its run, with cast changes a legal requirement for the juvenile actors every six months.

This, in turn, has led the team to open the Billy Elliot School within Leeds Civic Theatre, the only multi-discipline school of its kind in the North, where those successful at audition will train.

As Daldry explains: "Billy Elliot the Musical is the most complex and challenging production I have ever undertaken.

"Art is following life on a number of levels. Finding a boy from the north, with exceptional talent, has been our primary focus.

"The vast majority of the children we have seen are not from stage schools, but have managed, like Billy, to overcome extraordinary difficulties in achieving their dreams.

"Our responsibility is to give them the opportunity to flourish. I am desperately keen for the production to open in the North East, where the story is set, before moving to the Victoria Palace in London.

"If we succeed, then next March we’ll be presenting the unique experience of watching a new star literally developing before your eyes."

He adds: "Elton's knockout songs and Lee Hall's brilliant words and lyrics reflect their own very close relationship to this story."

For anyone who doesn't already know, Billy Elliot is the story of a boy from a humble Tyneside background, whose mother is dead, and whose father and brother are caught up in the bitterly fought community-splitting miner’s strike of 1984.

Billy’s father wants his son to learn to box, like him and his father before him. But instead, Billy becomes fascinated by the grace and magic of ballet.

Both the film and the musical will chronicle Billy’s gritty and determined struggle, at first in secret, but then with the wholehearted backing of his family, to dance his way to the brightest of futures by winning a place at the Royal Ballet School.

Between now and next spring this major production will come to readiness according to a tight and precise schedule. From costumes to special effects, and from ballet coaching to the intricacies of set building, a team totalling over 230 professionals will see to it that Billy Elliot - The Musical arrives on stage at the Victoria Palace in the very peak of physical, artistic and musical health.

Tickets went on sale on June 22.

Order tickets now!

Billy Elliot - The Musical © Billy London Ltd 2004; Victoria Palace, 8 Victoria Street, Victoria, SW1.
Monday – Saturday 7.30pm; Thursday and Saturday matinee 2.30pm.
Box Office Tel: 0870 895 5577 Tickets from £17.50-£50

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