Thursday, January 1, 2009

Billy Elliot Opens in Melbourne! Japan, Germany Coming Soon

AFTER three weeks of previews, the unstoppable stage adaptation Billy Elliot the Musical opened last night at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne.

Starring Jamie Bell, the low-budget British film became a commercial success to rival The Full Monty, and earned three Oscar nominations. After singer Elton John saw it, he sobbed so much that he was compelled to bring it to the stage.

The resulting stage show is a multi-million-dollar production that has played in four cities to more than 2.5 million people.

The show opened in London's West End in May 2005, and is still running there. Billy hit Sydney in November last year, and is one of only three shows to have had a year-long season there in the past decade.

It began in New York in October, and its preview season started in Melbourne on December 13. More than 120,000 tickets have been sold here since August. Melbourne will be its last Australian stop because of the complexities of the set.

Productions are planned for Korea, Japan and Germany.

Among those at last night's opening night were singer Marina Prior, actor Magda Szubanksi, film director Fred Schepisi, tennis great Todd Woodbridge, television host Julia Zemiro and actors Samuel Johnson and Matthew Newton.

The honour of opening-night lead went to the dynamic Dayton Tavares, a 12-year-old Sydneysider. Dayton, who is one of five boys sharing the lead in Melbourne, auditioned for the role in 2006, but was too young to be accepted then.

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