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The Audience & Billy Elliot prepare responses to Margaret Thatcher's death

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Following the death today of Margaret Thatcher, who has passed away at 87, two West End productions that include portraits of the former British prime minister are deciding how best to handle this evening’s performances.

Both The Audience, Peter Morgan’s sell-out play at the Gielgud Theatre, and Billy Elliot, Elton John and Lee Hall’s screen-to-stage musical at the Victoria Palace, will go ahead tonight.

At The Audience, while no changes will be made to the script, author Peter Morgan himself will make a pre-show announcement. In the play, Helen Mirren’s Queen demonstrates her dislike of Thatcher, played by Haydn Gwynne, and in particular, her refusal to issue sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa.

A spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that producers of Billy Elliot will decide what to do in consultation with the cast once they arrive at the theatre tonight. Though Thatcher does not appear onstage as a character, her presence is even more strongly felt in the musical, set against the North-eastern mining strikes of the 1980s. And the song “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher” – with its choral refrain celebrating being “one day closer” to Thatcher’s death and is performed against a large Spitting Image-style inflatable version of the Iron Lady - leaves in no doubt how the characters feel about Thatcher and the changes she wrought in British society.

Both productions are, coincidentally, directed by Stephen Daldry.


Can you hear it in the distance
Can you sense it far away
Is it old Rudolph the reindeer
Is it Santa on his sleigh
It's heading up to Easington
It's coming down the Tyne
Oh it's bloody Maggie Thatcher
And Michael Heseltine

So Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
May God's love be with you
We all sing together in one breath
Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
We all celebrate today
'Cause it's one day closer to your death

They've come to raid your stockings
And to steal your Christmas pud
But don't be too downhearted
It's all for your own good
The economic infrastructure
Must be swept away
To make way for business parks
And lower rates of pay


And they've brought their fascist boot boys
And they've brought the boys in blue
And the whole Trade Union Congress
Will be at the party too
And they'll all hold hands together
All standing in a line
'Cause they're privatising Santa
This merry Christmas time

(Chorus 2x)

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Heseltine
You're a tosser, you're a tosser
And you're just a Tory Swine


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