Daldry Introduces His New Trio of Billy Elliot BoysDate: 5 October 2004
At a press conference held this morning at London’s Criterion Theatre, director Stephen Daldry introduced the three young boys who will alternate in the title role of the much-anticipated stage version of his 2000 Brit flick Billy Elliot. James Lomas, George McGuire and Liam Mower were selected from a year-long search which Daldry today described as, “Looking for a needle in a haystack”, in which the creative team auditioned more than 3,000 hopefuls from across the country.
The youngest is Liam Mower (pictured left) from Hull, at 12 years old director Daldry admitted “Liam is the real life Billy Elliot” because whilst auditioning for Billy Elliot Mower gained admission to the Royal Ballet School. George Maguire (pictured centre), who’s 13 and hails from Stanford-Le-Hope in Essex, came to dancing via talent competitions and trampolining. While James Lomas (pictured right), the eldest of the three at 14 years old, is from Sheffield and after school plays and drama club joined Sheffield Youth Theatre, he started dance classes not long after.
The other big news is that there will be three different press nights – one for each of the boys. Daldry confirmed that this was also because the show would be slightly altered depending on who was playing the lead, he said “It’s not a show you can slot a kid into, it’s around them and their talent… It’s about finding the particular motor or trigger to get any individual boy to soar”. As a result choreography, orchestration, music and lighting will be altered to play to the lead’s strengths.
Daldry said other casting deals would be released at a later date but confirmed that Julie Walters would not be appearing in the stage show.
Many of the unsuccessful boys found during auditions are now being trained via the newly established Leeds-based Billy Elliot School, the only multi-discipline school of its kind in the North, which will help replenish the West End company in future. Further casting in the 38-strong company has not yet been announced.
Set against the North-eastern mining strikes of the 1980s, Billy Elliot recounts the tale of a motherless boy whose father wants him to learn to box. Instead, he discovers a love for ballet that leads him from secret lessons to a place at the Royal Ballet School.
The stage production reunites the film’s creative team of director Stephen Daldry, writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling as well as producer Jon Finn, and features an original score by pop singer-songwriter Elton John, with lyrics by Hall. It's designed by Ian MacNeil, with costumes by Sue Blane and musical supervision by Martin Koch.
Billy Elliot opens at West End’s Victoria Theatre on 11 May 2004 (following staggered previews from 24 March).
- by Hannah Kennedy