The stage production of BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL was quickly taken to the nation's hearts following its debut in 2005 at the Victoria Palace Theatre where it is still playing today. It was swiftly nominated for nine Olivier Awards, winning four, including Best New Musical. The musical was an adaptation of the 2000 film of the same which starred Jamie Bell as the eponymous hero, a motherless son whose desire to be a ballet dancer was at odds with the oppressive and gloomy backdrop of a hometown struggling with the effects of the miner's strike. Lee Hall wrote the film's screenplay and he also helmed the book and lyrics for the stage production. The stage version's music was composed by Sir Elton John who had been incredibly moved by the original story.
Directed by Stephen Daldry the film was a global hit raking in over £72million on a £3million budget and also starred Julie Walters as the dance teacher secretly giving him lessons and Gary Lewis as his widower father struggling to cope with his wife's death and his son's new passion. The musical's success overseas has seen it pick up ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards in the US as well as a record-tying seven Helpmann Awards in Australia. Further productions have opened in Seoul and Canada, with future openings in Germany and The Netherlands having been discussed.
The original script has been abridged and adapted by Hall and Martin Koch (Musical Supervision and Orchestrations) so that a 'school friendly' version can give the show a further lease of life. Participating schools in the Billy Youth Theatre across the UK are able to stage their own productions of the show.
The original West End production was described as a "theatrical masterpiece" by the Daily Mail on opening and Charles Spencer from the Daily Telegraph deemed it "the greatest British musical I have ever seen." Your vote for Billy Elliot as best long-running musical can be cast at olivierawards.com until 5pm on 11 April.
[posted by James, 30/06/2012]