Gillian Elisa takes over the role of 'Grandma' in Billy Elliot

Producers of the West End production of Billy Elliot have announced that actress Ann Emery will retire from the production at the age of 84. She originated the role of 'Grandma' in the musical and has played the role opposite all 39 London Billys.

She will be succeeded by Gillian Elisa who said of the news: "I first joined the cast in 2011 and have loved every moment working on this special show. It’s a real privilege to take this iconic role on full time. I am so proud to be part of this amazing company."

The current cast also includes Ruthie Henshall as Billy's dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, Deka Walmsley as Dad, and Chris Grahamson as Tony.

The West End production of Billy Elliot originally opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 11 May 2005, following previews from 31 March 2005. It is currently booking to 19 December 2015.

The musical has been seen by over 10 million people worldwide and has been presented on Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for Best New Musical, as well as productions in Sydney, Melbourne, Chicago, Toronto and Seoul.

Based on the film of the same name, Billy Elliot is the tale of a motherless boy whose father wants him to take up boxing. Instead, the boy discovers a love for ballet that leads him from secret lessons to a place at the Royal Ballet School.

Billy Elliot 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 production 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, and choreography by Peter Darling.

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