Co-op Juniors picked to bring Billy Elliot to Suffolk stage

CHRISTMAS has come early for the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company, who have been picked to stage Billy Elliot the Musical.

It’s part of a countrywide scheme, Billy Youth Theatre 2011, offering schools and youth groups the chance to stage their own version of the international award-winning show.

Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall and musical supervisor Martin Koch have adapted their original script and orchestrations of Elton John’s music to produce a shortened version exclusively for groups staging local productions.

“This news is an early Christmas present for the cast! We’re in the middle of our annual Spectacular at Snape Maltings until 21 December, so we’re all very excited about doing Billy Elliot next year. It’s a Suffolk exclusive,” said co-director Pauline Walker.

Based on the Oscar-nominated film, Billy Elliot the Musical is set in the North East of England against the background of the historic 1984-85 miners’ strike. Billy pursues his passion for dance in secret to avoid disapproval of his struggling family.

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The Juniors will stage seven performances at the Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from April 29-May 2.

The directors of participating groups were given a unique opportunity to take part in a specially-created weekend workshop in London, led by the award-winning team that brings Billy Elliot to life each day on the London stage.

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Lindsey Ward, who is working on the production with the Juniors’ resident directors, said: “It was energising and fascinating to talk to the creators of such a major musical. I know we’ll be able to make our production distinctive and exciting when it comes to Woodbridge next year.”

Between next May and June selected productions from around the country will be invited to perform excerpts at showcases held at major regional theatres. Billy Youth Theatre will culminate with selected groups being offered the opportunity to follow in the steps of Billy and perform at the Billy Youth Theatre West End Gala at the Victoria Palace Theatre, Billy’s London home.

Co-op Juniors co-director Jeannie Ingram added: “This is a defining piece of musical theatre with an international reputation, so we’re diving right into it once we finish our Christmas Spectacular at Snape. We’re always encouraging new talent and this gives performers between ten and 19 a chance to shine in a big musical.”

Tickets for Billy Elliot the Musical at Seckford Theatre are available from January 10.

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