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Billy Elliot:The Musical - cast changes

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CAST changes have just been announced for Billy Elliot: The Musical. From Monday, September 19, 2005, 14 year-old Leon Cooke (pictured) will replace James Lomas in the title role.

Cooke, from Newcastle under Lyme, is just one of three young actors who will play Billy in rotation.

Cooke, who lives with his parents, five sisters and two brothers, has been dancing since the age of two. He is a Mid-Associate with the Royal Ballet in Birmingham and only last year, was nominated for the IDTA, Ken Dodd Tap award.

Also joining the cast as Billy's friend Michael, will be Joey Phillips who has been performing in amateur productions and pantomines since the age of seven.

There will also be a new group of ballet girls starring alongside original cast members - Haydn Gwynne as Mrs Wilkinson, the dance teacher; Tim Healy as Dad; Ann Emery as Grandma; and George McGuire and Liam Mower as Billy.

Since opening in March 2005, Billy Elliot has been seen by more than 250,000 people. It is currently booking to April 1, 2006.


Previously posted: Plans are well in hand to bring Billy Elliot: The Musical to the West End stage in February of next year, at The Victoria Palace.

The film's writer, Lee Hall, director, Stephen Daldry, and choreographer, Peter Darling, will once again collaborate on the project, with Sir Elton John responsible for the music.

One of the most successful British films of all time, Billy Elliot won BAFTA awards for Best British Film, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor and was nominated for a further ten. It also received three Oscar nominations.

It's the simple story of an 11-year-old boy, Billy Elliot, who defies convention and pursues his dream of becoming a dancer and its appeal was universal.

The casting process for the show began as long ago as last November, with auditions held in several major cities.

The response, particularly for the parts of Billy and his best friend, Michael, was so encouraging that a Billy Elliot Academy has been established, in Leeds, so that young people can train and, hopefully, join the show's cast.

Prior to its West End debut, Billy Elliot: The Musical will first be seen in Newcastle over the Christmas period.

It is a Working Title and Old Vic production.

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