Billy Elliot - The Musical, which won Best Musical at this year’s Evening Standard Awards (see News 28 Nov 2005) and has been nominated in eight categories in the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (including Best New Musical, see News 30th November 2005) has extended its run at the Victoria Palace by over six months.

The show, which opened to ecstatic reviews on 12 May 2005, was previously booking to 1 April 2006. A new booking period opens on 8 January 2006, with tickets available to 21 October 2006.

Based on the 2000 Brit flick of the same name and 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. Instead, he discovers a love for ballet that leads him from secret lessons to a place at the Royal Ballet School.

Billy Elliot - The Musical reunites the creative team behind the award-winning 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 Sue Blane and musical supervision by Martin Koch.

Leon Cooke and Liam Mower make their professional stage debuts alternating in the title role as the aspiring ballet dancer, with Travis Yates replacing George Maguire as the third Billy alternating in the role from 19 December 2005. The cast also features Philip Whitchurch (who took over from Tim Healy last week as Billy’s father) and original cast members Haydn Gwynne (as dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson) and Ann Emery (Billy’s Grandma).

Other new cast members include Chris Lennon (Tony), Alex Delamere (Mr Braithwaite), Paul Broughton (George) and Stephanie Putson (Mum). Billy's best friend, Michael, is played by Brad Kavanagh, Ryan Longbottom and Joey Phillips. The show is produced by Working Title and Old Vic Productions plc.

- by Caroline Ansdell