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Dateline: 29th July, 2004

Billy Ellio the Musical poster

No Newcastle Premiere for Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot the Musical will not, after all, premiere in Newcastle.

The show was due to open at the Tyne Theatre (formerly the Newcastle Opera House and before that the New Tyne Theatre) in November, but the theatre's management company went into administration recently and, although it is being taken over by SMG Europe, the producers clearly cannot commit to it in such uncertain circumstances. The other theatres which could have provided a home are otherwise occupied at the time: both the Theatre Royal and the People's Theatre will be deeply involved in the RSC Newcastle season; the Playhouse will be closed; Live is far too small (and is anyway involved in the RSC season) and the Sunderland Empire is closed for redevelopment.

Jon Finn, one of the producers, said, “We tried everything possible to get this show to debut in Newcastle, but sadly we're not able to make it happen. Naturally, I'm bitterly disappointed, since Billy Elliot, Lee Hall and myself are all originally from Newcastle and we were passionate to have the show open in the North East. Whilst the musical will now not debut in Newcastle, we will by hook or by crook try to get it there at some point in the future.”

(Not quite true! Billy Elliot lived in a mining village!)

In fact, it seems as though the production has grown rather larger than expected and it would be stretching the budget (and resources) to open it in Newcastle and then move to London. The opening has been pushed by by two weeks - it will now open on 28th March at the Victoria Palace.

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©Peter Lathan 2004