From Fun Home to Waitress, from Next to Normal to Finding Neverland - it's always fun collating the various rumours flying around theatreland. After a very busy...
New "Billy Elliot" from 19 Sep 2005
New "Billy Elliot" from 19 Sep 2005
Leon Cooke will join the cast of Billy Elliot : The Musical to play the title role, joining George Maguire and Liam Mower, who along with James Lomas (who leaves on 17 Sep), created the role of Billy on stage earlier this year.
Leon, who has just turned 14 and is from Newcastle under Lyme, will join the cast on Monday 19 September 2005.
He will be joined by Joey Phillips, 13 from Lytham St Annes, who will play Billy's friend Michael. (taking over from Ashley Lloyd). Joey Phillips will alternate with Brad Kavanagh & Ryan Longbottom.
The show continues to feature: Haydn Gwynne (Mrs Wilkinson), Tim Healey (Dad), Anne Emery (Grandma), Joe Caffrey (Tony), Steve Elias (Mr Braithwaite), Trevor Fox (George), Stephanie Putson (Mum). Brooke Havana Bailey, Emma Hudson, Lucy Stephenson, playing Debbie - Mrs Wilkinson’s daughter.
The show opened 11 May 2005, following previews from 31 March, to terrific notices from the popular press: MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Billy Elliot succeeds brilliantly because Elton John's music and, especially, Peter Darling's choreography enhance Lee Hall's cinematic concept." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Billy Elliot strikes me as the greatest British musical I have ever seen." ALASTAIR MACAULAY for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "Elton John's music is too often formulaic but about half of this show achieves dramatic poetry of a kind rare in any kind of theatre."PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Funny, touching and shamelessly enjoyable staging."
Since its opening in March 2005, Billy Elliot the Musical has played to over 250,000 people.
Billy Elliot : The Musical is produced by Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan co-Chairmen of Working Title Films and theatre impresario Sally Greene, from Old Vic Productions along with Jon Finn.
The show has Book & Lyrics by Lee Hall & Music by Elton John. It is directed by Stephen Daldry, designed by Ian MacNeil, lighting by Rick Fisher, costumes by Nicky Gillibrand, choreography by Peter Darling, sound by Paul Arditti
Billy Elliot is the story of a boy from a humble Tyneside background, whose mother is dead, and whose father and brother are caught up in the bitterly fought community-splitting miner's strike of 1984. Billy's father wants his son to learn to box, like him and his father before him. But instead Billy becomes fascinated by the grace and magic of ballet. BILLY ELLIOT is about Billy's gritty and determined struggle, at first in secret, but then with the wholehearted backing of his family, to dance his way to the brightest of futures by winning a place at the Royal Ballet School.
Leon Cooke: I have been dancing since the age of two at The Marilyn Jones Dance Centre, which is like a second home to me. My brothers, sisters and my Mum have all danced there. My Dad teaches for Miss Marilyn so I can join in as many classes as I like. I study ballet, tap, gymnastics, theatrecraft, song and dance and streetdance. I love ballet and my ambition is to be as good as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Angel Corella from The American Ballet Theatre. I am a Mid-Associate with The Royal Ballet at Birmingham. Last year I was nominated for the IDTA, Ken Dodd Tap Award. I live in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire with my Mum and Dad, five sisters (Tara, Zena, Cassandra, Anastasia, Valentina) and two brothers (Damian and Dmitri) and I attend St. John Fisher Catholic High School. In my spare time I enjoy playing football and playing golf at the local driving range with my friend James. When my sister Zena took me for the first audition in Manchester I had no idea that I would get through. It seems like a dream now that I have been chosen to play Billy at the Victoria Palace and I am really looking forward to it.
Joey Phillips: I am thirteen years old and live in Lytham St. Annes with my Mum, Dad and sister Emma. I attend Lytham St. Annes High Technology College and my hobbies are acting, dancing, singing and sport. Music has always been played in my house and when I was little I used to try to make up dances so at the age of four I started attending Rainbow Dance Studios. I learnt modern and tap dancing. When I was seven I started performing in pantomimes and at ten I played Kurt in the Sound of Music with Imagine Productions, this lead to further amateur lead roles in The Secret Garden, Oliver and Les Miserables. I am really excited about playing Michael in Billy Elliot The Musical, especially because it will be my first time on the West End stage.