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Did Billy Elliot Land Smoothly on Broadway???

Three years after making its West End premiere, Billy Elliot The Musical finally bowed on Broadway last night (13 November 2008), with 13 year old New Yorker Trent Kowalik in the title role and Haydn Gwynne, the West End’s original Mrs Wilkinson, reprising her role to make her Broadway debut.

There were fears prior to the transfer that the combination of heavy North-Eastern vernacular (Broadway programmes contain a glossary) and 80s working-class British politics would be a bit much for New Yorkers to take, but those fears fast evaporated today in a blaze of rave reviews.

One of the most influential critics in the States, the New York Times’ Ben Brantley, labeled the show “seductive” and “smashingly realized”, highlighting the fact that as a “hard-times musical” it’s likely to strike a chord with American audiences dealing with the current recession. Variety’s David Rooney echoed these sentiments, writing in his glowing review: “the zeitgeist could hardly be more attuned to the stirring story of a Northern England miner's son liberated from bleak reality by his passion for ballet.”

And there was certainly no shortage of celebrity support on opening night. Composer Elton John, writer and lyricist Lee Hall and director Stephen Daldry were joined by guests including Woody Allen, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Eric Fellner, Ron Howard, Billie Jean King, Liam Neeson, Rosie O'Donnell, Paul Rudd, Kevin Spacey, Barbara Walters, Rachel Weisz and Ben Stiller – who incidentally is rumoured to be starring in Elton John’s next project, a film musical about a gay Broadway star with HIV.


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