Mower’s final performances are 14, 15, 18, 22, 26, 29 and 30 September 2006 at 7.30pm and 16 and 23 September at 2.30pm. Meanwhile, the musical – with its new rota of title performers - has extended its booking period to 27 October 2007 in the West End, with a Broadway transfer planned.
Mower, now 14, is the last of the three original Billys to leave the show, following Lomas and Maguire’s departures last autumn. The trio created the role of the 11-year-old boxer-turned-ballet-dancer in March 2005. This October, he returns to his home town of Hull to begin studying for his GCSEs
Since receiving its world premiere on 12 May 2005 (following previews from 31 March), Billy Elliot has been seen by almost one million people, playing to full houses at the Victoria Palace where it has broken box office records. The musical is based on the 2000 film, which was nominated for three Oscars and 13 Bafta awards.
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.
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.
As well as performing in front of the HM Queen at the Victoria Palace, Mower was invited to perform at Buckingham Palace for Prince Charles as part of his involvement with the Royal Ballet School. Earlier this year, he performed in New York at the prestigious Anglo Mania Ball at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where was seen by a star-studded audience including Drew Barrymore, P. Diddy, Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker. In May 2006, Mower was reunited with Lomas and Maguire for a special one-off performance to celebrate Billy Elliot’s first birthday (See News, 27 Mar 2006).
Commenting in a press statement, Mower said: “Nothing could have prepared me for the experience I have had playing Billy Elliot – it’s hard work but great fun! Everyone I have met from my first day of rehearsals and through my final weeks has been so supportive, from the cast and crew to the people who have been looking after me in London. I will miss them all loads.”
Stephen Daldry added: “Liam is a unique talent and we have all been blessed with the opportunity to see him flourish in Billy Elliot over the past 18 months. Rarely does one ever come across a performer with so many skills and talents, particularly when matched by Liam's determination and good humour.”
The current stars of Billy Elliot are Colin Bates, Leon Cooke, Matthew Koon and Travis Yates alternating in the title role, alongside Sally Dexter (Mrs Wilkinson), Philip Whitchurch (Dad), Chris Lennon (Tony), Ann Emery (Grandma), Sara Poyzer (Billy’s Mum), Paul Broughton (George), Alex Delamere (Mr Braithwaite) and Isaac James (Older Billy).
- by Caroline Ansdell