As previously tipped (See The Goss, 13 Aug 2004), after last month abandoning its pre-London season in Newcastle (See News, 28 Jul 2004), Billy Elliot - The Musical has postponed its West End opening, which is now scheduled for 11 May 2005.

Performances will begin at London’s Victoria Palace on 24 March 2005 (as opposed to 11 March as originally announced this past June), but, in what is believed to be a first for the West End, during the first five weeks, previews will be staggered. From 24 March to 30 April, the stage adaptation of the hit 2000 Brit flick will run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only. The conventional eight shows per week will commence from 2 May, ahead of the 11 May press performance.

A show spokesperson told that, following the loss of the Newcastle dates, the unique London opening schedule had been decided “after much discussion” in order to “give the show the time it needs”.

The 38-strong company will be led, in the title role, by a rotation of three boys, who will be introduced to the media in late September. Over the past year, the creative team has seen more than 3,000 boys, many of whom are now being nurtured via the Leeds-based Billy Elliot School, the only multi-discipline school of its kind in the North. No other casting has 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 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.

- by Terri Paddock