Following the closing of Billy Elliot the Musical in London’s West End earlier this year, after 11 years and nearly 5000 performances, the show has now started a national tour and, at the same time, been released for schools to perform.
Christleton High School in Chester is one of the first schools in the country to be granted a license and they are now in final rehearsals for their production of the smash hit musical about a boy from the northeast of England, living through the miner’s strike of 1984, who finds he has a natural talent for ballet.
The heart-warming story and memorable music, set against the backdrop of political and social turmoil in Thatcher-era Britain make for a show which quite rightly deserves its reputation as one of the most successful musicals in West End history.
Year 7 student Ben Rackham, from Barrow, landed the dream role of Billy following hard fought auditions back in February and has been working hard to master the lengthy and complex choreography required for the show, as well as learning a lot of lines and songs.
The show’s Director, Simon Phillips, said “Ben is a star; he is so modest and takes everything in his stride. As one of the youngest boys in year 7 he will still be just 11 years old when he plays the part next month and the weight of the whole show rests on him in many ways. But, he is a very confident and talented performer and will really wow the audiences, I’m sure.”
In addition to Ben, some 70 students appear in the cast of the show and a further dozen or more will be working behind the scenes alongside the professional 9-piece band and theatre experts who help to create the technical elements of the show.
Mr Phillips said “We try, each year, to raise the bar in terms of what we are able to do with our productions and this year is no different. The company of nearly 100 students, staff and theatre professionals are so enthusiastic about this show and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to produce it.”
The school, following successes in recent years with We Will Rock You, Joseph, Oliver!, The Lion King and Our House, is developing a reputation for producing annual musical theatre shows which aim for high standards in terms of both artistic and technical achievement. With music written by Elton John and the script and lyrics by Lee Hall, who wrote the screenplay for the film this is going to be one not to miss.
BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL
Monday 11th to Saturday 16th July 2016
Christleton High School
Tickets £8 available by clicking the link below.