Young people from 14 school and youth theatre groups got a taste of West End fame on Sunday as they took to the stage at the Victoria Palace as part of Billy Youth Theatre.
The gala event was the culmination of an initiative launched by the creators of Billy Elliot The Musical which has seen over 5,000 young people aged 10 to 19 from all over the UK perform a specially adapted version of the award-winning musical in their local communities.
Following the launch of Billy Youth Theatre last November, 115 school and youth theatre groups seized the opportunity to create productions of the show and perform excerpts at showcases held at seven regional theatres. Subsequently, 14 participating groups from towns including Bicester, Swansea, Newton Abbot and Bolton were invited to perform in London in front of 1,500 at the Victoria Palace.
Stephen Daldry, the director of the musical and the hit film upon which it is based, commented: “The response to Billy Youth Theatre has surpassed our expectations. To have been able to offer over 5,000 young people the chance to be so closely associated with our production of Billy Elliot The Musical has been a great experience for us. Our creative team have seen some wonderful excerpts of our musical performed by exceptionally talented young people countrywide.”
A tale of one young boy’s ambition to forgo boxing for ballet, Billy Elliot The Musical opened at the Victoria Palace in 2005 and won several Laurence Olivier Awards at the following year’s ceremony, including Best New Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for its three young stars. Productions have subsequently opened around the world, including on Broadway.