Originally, Billy Elliot — The Musical was due to open at the Victoria Palace after premiering at the Tyne Theatre, Newcastle — the native city of the film's creator Lee Hall. But the producers — which filmmakers Working Title — were forced to reschedule after the venue (better known as the Newcastle Opera House) was closed last June.
The story of Billy Elliot is set in the North East of England during the miner's strike of the 1980's. The eponymous hero is a sensitive young boy who discovers a talent for ballet. Billy is the only child of a single parent, a macho father who believes that dancing is for girls and that boys are better suited to boxing.
The movie marked the cinematic debut of theatre director Stephen Daldry, who will also direct the musical for which Hall will write the book and Elton John the score. The film made a star of child actor Jamie Bell who was just 14 when the film was released in 2000.
Daldry has been leading the search for several Billys. Britain's child labor laws require a cast change in the lead role every six months. Over 3,000 boys have already been seen, and the project has led to the opening of The Billy Elliot School in Leeds where those who succeed in the auditions will be trained. It is the the only multi-discipline school of its kind in the North of England.
"Billy Elliot—the Musical is the most complex and challenging production I have ever undertaken," said Daldry. "Finding a boy from the north with exceptional talent has been our primary focus. The vast majority of the children we have seen are not from stage schools, but have managed, like Billy, to overcome extraordinary difficulties in achieving their dreams. Our responsibility is to give them the opportunity to flourish. If we succeed, then next March we'll be presenting the unique experience of watching a new star literally developing before your eyes." Casting for the title role in the musical is due to be announced next month.