Full casting has now been confirmed for the upcoming premiere of Billy Elliot - The Musical. Joining Billy alternates James Lomas (14 years old), George Maguire (13) and Liam Mower (12) at the West End’s Victoria Palace (See News, 5 Oct 2004) - where the stage adaptation of the hit 2000 Brit flick, about a motherless Northern miner’s son whose love of ballet that leads him from secret lessons to a place at the Royal Ballet School, opens on 11 May 2005 – will be Haydn Gwynne, Tim Healy and Anne Rogers.

Gwynne will play Billy’s dance teacher, Mrs Wilkinson, the part taken by Julie Walters in the screen version. Best known for her TV work in Drop the Dead Donkey, Absolute Power and After the War, Gwynne’s stage credits include Peer Gynt, Twelfth Night, Hedda Gabler and The Memory of Water.

Healy (pictured), who plays Billy’s strike-demoralised father, is best known for TV’s Auf Wiedersehn Pet, Mit and Common as Muck. His stage credits include Art, Twelve Angry Men and Peter Pan. Former musical leading lady Anne Rogers (The Boy Friend, No No Nanette, My Fair Lady, who plays Billy’s Grandma, a sprightly former dancer, made her West End comeback in Over My Shoulder last year after an absence of three decades.

The Billy Elliot cast will also feature Joe Caffrey (Tony, Billy’s brother), Steve Elias (Mr Braithwaite, the Royal Ballet school pianist), Trevor Fox (George, the boxing coach) and Stephanie Putson (Billy’s deceased mother). As with the title role, teams of three child actors will rotate the parts of Mrs Wilkinson’s daughter, Debbie, and Billy’s best friend, Michael. They will be, as Debbie, Tyneside-born Havana Bailey, Emma Hudson and Lucy Stephenson; and, as Michael, Brad Kavanagh from Cumbria, Ashley Lloyd from Blackpool and Ryan Longbottom from Dewsbury.

The company also includes Daniel Coll, Erica Ann Deakin, Alex Delamere, Damien Delaney, Susan Fay, Alan Forrester, Isaac James, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Chris Lennon, David Massey, Michelle McAvoy, Karl Morgan, Daniel Page, Steve Paget, Lee Proud, Mike Scott, Phil Snowden and Tessa Worsley.

Performances of Billy Elliot - The Musical begin at the Victoria Palace on 24 March 2005. In what is believed to be a first for the West End, during the first five weeks, from 24 March to 30 April, previews will be staggered, running on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only. The conventional eight shows per week will commence from 2 May, ahead of the 11 May press performance.

The stage adaptation reunites the creative team behind the award-winning 2000 Brit flick: director Stephen Daldry, writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling. It's designed by Ian MacNeil, with costumes by Sue Blane and musical supervision by Martin Koch, and produced by Working Title and Old Vic Productions plc.

- by Terri Paddock