Universal Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions today (10 December 2015) announce that, after 4,600 performances, due to the theatre’s previously announced refurbishment programme, the multi award-winning West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical will play its final performance at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 9 April 2016 as the production celebrates its eleventh birthday. The show has been seen to date by over 5.25 million people in London and nearly 11 million people worldwide, has grossed over $800 million worldwide and is the winner of over 80 theatre awards internationally.
In June this year tickets went on sale for the first UK and Ireland tour of Billy Elliot the Musical, opening at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in February 2016 when the touring and West End productions will be playing concurrently. Further dates – Sunderland, Bradford, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, Southampton and Birmingham – have subsequently been announced, with the tour currently booking to May 2017. The first Japanese language production will open at the Akasaka ACT Theater in Tokyo in 2017.
Brought to life by the award-winning creative team behind the film including writer Lee Hall (book and lyrics), director Stephen Daldry and choreographer Peter Darling, joined by Elton John who composed the show’s score, Billy Elliot the Musical features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.
Based on the Oscar nominated film released in 2000 and set in a northern mining town against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy’s journey takes him out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.
Eric Fellner, Producer and Co-Chairman, Working Title Films, said: “After eleven incredible years at the Victoria Palace Theatre, I join my fellow producers in expressing our gratitude to absolutely everyone involved in making the show the enormous success it has become. It has been a privilege to witness Billy Elliot’s journey so far from producing the film in 1999 to the musical opening in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Broadway, Chicago, Seoul and Toronto amongst many other cities. I am delighted that Billy will continue his extraordinary journey when we begin our first UK and Ireland tour next year and look forward to the first Japanese production opening in Tokyo in 2017. Billy Elliot the Musical is Working Title’s first theatre production and we could not be more delighted with how audiences in London and worldwide have embraced this young boy’s inspirational story.”
Jimmy Horowitz, President, Universal Pictures, said: “Billy Elliot is one of the finest examples of what makes live theatre so special. When a powerful story is combined with a brilliant creative team and brought to life on stage by a company of talented and generous artists, there is truly nothing like it. All of us at Universal Stage Productions congratulate each and every individual who has contributed to the extraordinary success of this production over the last eleven years, and offer a heartfelt thank you to our London audiences who have so lovingly embraced Billy Elliot since the very beginning. Billy is about community and we are very proud to have been a part of yours.”
Elton John said: “I’ve said it before and it still remains true, Billy Elliot has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life. The talented young performers who have become part of our Billy Elliot family have amazed me with their achievements from the very start. Each time I have revisited the show I have been moved by Billy’s heart-warming story and his determination to achieve his dreams. I am so delighted that new audiences around the country will now have the opportunity to experience this extraordinary piece of work.”
Stephen Daldry said: “After eleven years and forty two London Billy Elliots, there are a huge number of people to whom we are enormously grateful, who have offered encouragement and support behind the scenes to our incredible child performers. From the mums and dads to the dance teachers and teachers of every kind who have helped them along the way, we want to say a massive thank you. The story of a miner’s son in the 80s who wanted to be a ballet dancer captured the imagination of audiences and critics alike and the dedication of everyone who has brought the show to life at the Victoria Palace Theatre and beyond has been exemplary. It has been a real privilege to have had the opportunity to retell Billy’s story on stage with my fellow creative team – I genuinely could not be more proud. I am really looking forward to our next chapter when we introduce the show to new audiences around the country and beyond.”
Lee Hall said: “The Victoria Palace has been Billy Elliot’s home for eleven years and, after the film, was an incredible place to start our theatrical journey. Our show has become so much bigger than anything I could have imagined and what has been particularly gratifying is to hear how many people have been genuinely inspired by Billy’s story. I can’t wait to take the show on tour, especially to the North East – it’s going to be an extraordinary thing to take Billy’s story back to where it started.”
Since its world premiere in 2005, the West End production has been honoured with numerous awards including 4 Olivier Awards in 2006, when Liam Mower, James Lomas and George Maguire, the first three boys to play the title role in London, became the youngest performers ever to have won the Olivier Award for Best Actor. The Broadway production was the recipient of 35 theatre awards, including ten Tony Awards in 2009 when David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish jointly won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for their role as Billy Elliot. The Australian production was similarly honoured with multiple awards including Best Musical at the Helpmann Awards, the Sydney Theatre Awards and at the Green Room Awards in Melbourne. Similar awards success followed at the Dora Awards in Toronto, Korea Musical Awards and in the Netherlands where the show as honoured with the award for Best Musical at the Dutch Musical Awards in 2015.
Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, Billy Elliot the Musical has won legions of fans around the world since its London premiere. Since they captivated audiences at their first ever public performance at the 2004 Royal Variety Show accompanied by Elton John, the young stars of Billy Elliot the Musical have met with royalty, politicians, sports and movie stars, have been invited to perform at Buckingham Palace, the White House, at the Olivier and Tony Awards, have sung the national anthem at the MetLife Stadium in New York and visited Downing Street to meet with the Prime Minster, and in 2011, featured on a special edition Royal Mail stamp.
In total, world-wide, ninety boys have now played the iconic role on stage with the West End production welcoming Euan Garrett, 12 years old from East Lothian, Scotland, earlier this month as the forty-second young boy to take on the title role in London. Since 2004, over 4,400 young boys have attended open auditions around the country with the hope of playing the iconic title role.
In 2009, Billy Youth Theatre was launched to schools and youth groups providing thousands of young people around the country the chance to perform their own local productions of the show. This project, which ran from 2009 – 2011, culminated with a special gala performance in each of 2010 and 2011 providing a total of over 700 young people from around the country with the opportunity to work directly with the Billy Elliot creative team and perform at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Productions have previously been staged on Broadway, in Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago, Toronto, Seoul, the Netherlands and São Paulo, Brazil where the North American touring production finished its spectacular run.
September 2014 saw a record breaking twenty-five former and current Billy Elliots come together on stage in a specially choreographed mash-up finale for Billy Elliot the Musical Live, a unique performance that was broadcast live to the UK and around the world, becoming the widest ever UK cinema release of a live event and going straight to number one at the UK cinema box office.
Ruthie Henshall and Deka Walmsley lead the adult cast in the West End as Mrs Wilkinson and Dad respectively in Billy Elliot the Musical. They are joined by Matthew Seadon-Young as Tony, Gillian Elisa as Grandma, Howard Crossley as George, Claudia Bradley as Dead Mum, Phil Snowden as Mr Braithwaite and James Butcher as Older Billy. Ensemble members are Craig Armstrong, Richard Ashton, James Ballanger, David Bardsley, Paul Basleigh, Rachel Bingham, Lucinda Collins, Peter Cork, Scott Cripps, Robbie Durham, Ross Finnie, Lee Hoy, Ruri James, Ben Redfern, Charlotte Riby, Mike Scott, Sharon Sexton, Wendy Somerville, Spencer Stafford, David Stoller and Kerry Washington
Brodie Donougher (12 years old from Blackpool), Euan Garrett (12 years old from East Lothian, Scotland),Thomas Hazelby (11 years old from Doncaster) and Nat Sweeney (13 years old from Birmingham) alternate the title role of Billy Elliot. Ben Robinson (10 years old from Chester), Nathan Jones (12 years old from Northumberland) and Bradley Mayfield (11 years old from South Yorkshire) play the role of Billy’s best friend Michael. Beatrice Bartley (11 years old from Durham), Hollie Jayne Creighton (10 years old from Sunderland) and Connie Fisher (11 years old from North Yorkshire) alternate the role of Debbie.
Billy Elliot the Musical is presented in London by Universal Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions in association with Tiger Aspect and is based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal film. The show is produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jon Finn and Sally Greene. Angela Morrison and David Furnish are executive producers.