Billy Elliot looks likely to follow in the footsteps of Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins (See News, 20 Oct 2003). Not just in terms of its being a screen-to-stage musical adaptation or its aiming for a West End opening in late 2004, but also in its plan to opt for a regional tryout ahead of that. While Maryis expecting to open in Bristol ahead of London, Billy is banking on having its world premiere in August in Newcastle. It's an appropriate setting for the story about a miner's son who, during the 1984 miners' strikes that gripped the North East, stumbles out of the boxing ring and onto the ballet floor. Open auditions start this Saturday in Newcastle to find 11-14 year old Geordie boys to take the title role (played by Jamie Bell in the award-winning 2000 film), as well as the part of his best friend Michael. A minimum of three Billys will be needed for the West End season and, according to the casting call "the search is on for boys who can dance and sing brilliantly. And, of course they have to be able to act!" The stage version reunites the theatre veterans behind the film - director Stephen Daldry, writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling - with Elton John adding original music to the mix. Billy Elliot the Musical is produced by Working Title and Old Vic Productions in association with Tiger Aspect Pictures.