How many Billys does it take to celebrate a birthday? About 22. That was the number of former and present Billy Elliots who came together last night at the Victoria Palace theatre to celebrate the hit British musical’s fifth birthday.
The birthday audience, which mixed industry associates, Billy fans, friends, families and celebs, including Little Britain’s David Walliams, was treated to a performance of the show that culminated with, in the words of director Stephen Daldry, “a finale megamix, a mashup of all the Billys”.
The original, Laurence Olivier Award-winning Billys Liam Mower, George Maguire and James Lomas received a huge cheer as they led the celebratory dance routine.
“To see the journey of these boys over the last five years,” said Daldry, “watching them grow up, is one of the most moving experiences, I think, of our lives.” It was a sentiment shared by writer and lyricist Lee Hall and composer Sir Elton John, who joined Daldry on stage to introduce the anniversary show.
If Daldry is to be believed, when the musical stage adaptation of the hit British movie first opened in London, “I really didn’t think we’d get through the end of the week.” Instead of the feared early closure, Billy Elliot The Musical is one of London’s most popular productions and has expanded to tell its tale of a talented boy growing up amid the miners’ strikes of the 1980s across the world.
“It is a remarkable show,” said John last night. “It has a life of its own. It’s a great story and I’m so happy that the show, even more than the film, was based on the political drama that happened. For me, it’s not about Billy; it’s about the miners and what they went through with their struggle.”
The show may not, for the flamboyant musician, be about Billy, but yesterday’s performance and party certainly were, with no returning Billy too old to resist the temptation of a slice of post-show birthday cake.
“When we first started with our three first Billys,” concluded Daldry. “It was so magical we never thought we would be able to recreate that magic ever again. The fact that we have consistently found these fantastic Billys is a wonder to behold.”