At the Victoria Palace, where Billy Elliot celebrated its first birthday on 12 May 2006 (See WOS TV, 15 May 2006), the show has added five months to its current booking period, taking it up to 31 March 2007. Set against the North-eastern mining strikes of the 1980s, the musical recounts the tale of a motherless boy whose father wants him to learn to box but who instead discovers a love for ballet that leads him from secret lessons to a place at the Royal Ballet School.
Since its opening, Billy Elliot has grossed over £30 million and been seen by more than 650,000 people. Amongst the show’s many accolades are the sweep of the UK’s Best Musical/New Musical trophies at the Evening Standard, Critics’ Circles, Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Awards.
The stage production reunites the creative team behind the film: director Stephen Daldry, writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling. It features an original score by pop singer-songwriter Elton John, with lyrics by Hall. It's designed by Ian MacNeil, with costumes by Nicky Gillibrand and musical supervision by Martin Koch.
At the Novello Theatre, Footloose has added an extra two months to its schedule, taking it through to 11 November 2006. Following extensive UK tours, the stage musical opened in the West End on 18 April 2006 (previews from 8 April) and had been booking to 9 September.
The story centres on city boy Ren who moves with his mother to a small town in middle America where rock music and dancing are outlawed for religious reasons. Sparks fly when Ren and the minister's teenaged daughter Ariel rebel. The 1984 film version starred Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. Derek Hough (pictured) and Amy Pemberton play Ren and Ariel in the West End, with Seventies pop stars David Essex and Cheryl Baker as Ariel’s church-going parents (See News, 12 May 2006).
Footloose has a book by Walter Bobbie and Dean Pitchford, who wrote the original screenplay. Its hit songs from the film include “Holding Out for a Hero”, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” and the title number. The London production is directed and choreographed by Karen Bruce.
- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock