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Billy Elliot The Musical’s Matteo Zecca and Ruthie Henshall at the This Morning Audience Award photoshoot (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/Rex Features)

Billy Elliot The Musical's Matteo Zecca and Ruthie Henshall at the This Morning Audience Award photoshoot (Photo: Jonathan Hordle/Rex Features)

Oliviers Audience Award: Billy Elliot

First Published 19 February 2015, Last Updated 10 April 2015

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.

Casting coup

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.

Fascinating fact

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.

They say…

“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

We say…

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.


You can keep up to date with all the Oliviers news in the run-up to the ceremony on 12 April by visiting Official London Theatre or following the Olivier Awards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Billy Elliot The Musical is booking at the Victoria Palace Theatre until 19 December. You can buy tickets through us here.


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