What’s it all about?
Set in a northern mining town during the 1984-85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot The Musical tells the inspirational story of a young boy who goes against his father’s wishes, throwing down his boxing gloves and picking up a pair of ballet pumps to pirouette his way to adulthood.
The touching tale, which is based on the Oscar nominated film, reunited Lee Hall and Stephen Daldry – the writer and director behind the story’s screen success – who recruited the help of a little known singer and composer called Elton John to bring it to life with music.
The role of Billy’s dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson has been played by three Olivier Award-winning actresses – Joanna Riding, Sally Dexter and current cast member Ruthie Henshall – during the course of its near 10-year West End reign.
X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne have all made cameo appearances in the show, alongside composer Elton John, who appeared as ballet class pianist Mr Braithwaite for a special gala performance.
A staggering 39 young stars have taken on the role of Billy Elliot in the West End. Each of them has worn seven pairs of shoes – one pair of sneakers, three pairs of tap shoes, one pair of ballet slippers, one pair of bedroom slippers and one pair of tap covers – in each performance of the production.
Olivier Awards history
Billy Elliot The Musical won a handful of London theatre’s most coveted accolades following its premiere almost a decade ago. At the 2006 ceremony, James Lomas, George Maguire and Liam Mower, the three young performers who originated the title role on stage, shared the Best Actor in a Musical accolade. They were joined by Peter Darling, who took home the award for Best Theatre Choreographer, Paul Arditti, who earned the Best Sound Design prize, and the production as a whole, which was awarded the title of Best New Musical.
Since then it has made the Audience Award shortlist every year it has been eligible, walking away with the prestigious public-voted prize for the first time in 2013.
“It’s a sensational show. We get standing ovations every night. I’ve never ever been in a show where without fail the whole audience gets up. It’s a real testament to how wonderful and moving and brilliant the show is. I’ll have done a year in May and I can’t imagine not being in it. It’s just glorious to be a part of. I’m loving every single moment.
“This is an award that is a really big one to get because it tells other people that audiences are loving it. I really hope we win because I think it’s very deserving. All of these shows are very deserving, but we deserve it the most [laughs].” Ruthie Henshall
After almost a decade at the Victoria Palace Theatre, this quintessentially British musical is just as good as ever. Featuring a sterling cast including Henshall, Deka Walmsley and Chris Grahamson, the production’s emotion-packed tale fills you with joy at the same time as having you reaching for a box of tissues.