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BILLY ELLIOT CELEBRATES 5 YEARS IN THE WEST END

Monday 15 March 2010

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On 31 March 2010, Billy Elliot the Musical will celebrate its fifth birthday in London’s West End. 

The critically acclaimed, internationally award-winning musical BILLY ELLIOT opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2005 and has subsequently been seen by over 4.5 million people worldwide.  As well as the current London production, Billy Elliot the Musical has performed in Sydney and Melbourne, is currently performing at the Imperial Theater on Broadway and from 18 March will begin previews at the Oriental Theatre, Chicago, with further productions due to open in Korea in August 2010, Toronto in February 2011 and Japan in 2011.  In addition a North American tour is slated to begin in November 2010 and productions are in the works for Germany and Holland.

To celebrate, a special finale will be choreographed for Billy’s fifth birthday performance at the Victoria Palace Theatre to include 19 past, present and future Billy Elliots.

Since its world premiere, 21 boys have played the title role in London, 10 have played Billy in Australia and 9 boys have played the title role on Broadway.  A total of 36 boys, including Jamie Bell who played Billy Elliot in the award-winning film, have now performed the title role, some having played in two territories.  Later this week, 18 March, the Chicago production opens with 4 Billys cast to take the leading role, including one who previously performed on Broadway.

On 24 March 2010 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, 12 years old Rhys Yeomans from Oldham, Lancashire, will become the 40th Billy Elliot.  Rhys Yeomans said “I live with my Mum Joanne, my Dad Mark, my two cats Jerry and Junior and my little rabbit called Snowy.  I started to dance at the age of 9 at Centrepointe Dance School in Denton, Manchester.  I have enjoyed every moment of my Billy Elliot training in London and I am really excited about my first performance on stage in front of a live audience!   I would like to give a big thank you to my Mum and family for supporting me and Caroline Wright, my dance teacher from Centrepointe, for being such a brilliant teacher.”

A funny, heart-warming and feel-good celebration of one young boy's dreams, Billy Elliot the Musical, based on the international hit film, is written by Lee Hall, directed by Stephen Daldry, has music by Elton John, choreography by Peter Darling, designs by Ian MacNeil, sound by Paul Arditti and lighting by Rick Fisher.

Billy Elliot the Musical is presented in London by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions in association with Tiger Aspect and is based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film.

From 27 March 2010 the London cast is, Rhys Yeomans (12 years old from Oldham, Lancashire), Dean-Charles Chapman (12 years old from Essex), Oliver Gardner (12 years old from Bath), Tom Holland (13 years old from Kingston-upon-Thames) who alternate the title role alongside principal cast members Joanna Riding (Mrs Wilkinson), Joe Caffrey (Dad), Craig Gallivan (Tony), Ann Emery (Grandma), David Nellist (George), Sean Kingsley (Mr Braithwaite), Samantha Seager (Dead Mum) and Barnaby Meredith (Older Billy).  They are joined by Connor Doyle (13 years old from Walsall), Connor Kelly (11 years old from Scunthorpe) and Jake Pratt (13 years old originally from Scarborough, now living in Middlesex) and from 26 April Joe Massey (10 years old from South Wirral), who will alternate the role of Billy’s best friend Michael and Emily Smith (10 years old from County Durham), Fleur Houdijk (12 years old from Hartlepool) and Francesca Mango (10 years old from Northumberland) who alternate the role of Debbie.
 
To celebrate five years in the West End, the producers of Billy Elliot the Musical launched Billy Youth Theatre, a new initiative providing schools and youth groups around the country with the opportunity to perform their own productions of a specially adapted version of the internationally award-winning show.  A number of the 115 participating groups will be invited to perform excerpts from their productions at regional showcases.  The seven theatres that will host the showcases throughout May and June 2010 are The Lowry (Quay Theatre), Salford, 9 May;  Gala Theatre, Durham, 16 May;  Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 22 May;  Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, 8 June;  Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham, 12 June Brighton Dome (Concert Hall), Brighton, 19 June;  Curve, Leicester, 19 June.   Subsequently, a smaller selection of groups will be offered the opportunity to follow in the steps of Billy and perform at the Billy Youth Theatre West End Gala at the Victoria Palace Theatre, Billy’s London home, in July 2010. 

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