It’s 1984. In England’s mining towns, life is in upheaval: it is the time of the strikes. Eleven-year-old Billy Elliot lives in one of these towns. His father and older brother have joined the picket line to fight for a better living. His mother is dead. Following in the family tradition, the boy attends boxing lessons, but this violent sport doesn’t suit him much. One day he happens upon the girls at their ballet class and is smitten by the dancing. Will a young boy’s artistic talent be able to bring the family and the community together? Will Billy succeed in making his dreams come true?
This musical adaptation which has delighted audiences around the world is the collaboration between Sir Elton John and the winning team behind the original 2000 feature film. The Hungarian State Opera presents it in a non-replica production directed by Tamás Szirtes, and with choreography by Ákos Tihanyi.
An all-star cast is featured in the new production of Billy Elliot – The Musical that will have its premiere at the Opera House. Later, more series at the Erkel Theatre will feature in the programme of the next season. The musical has been seen by more than 5 million people in London since its 2005 premiere, and 11 million people worldwide. For the Hungarian production popular Hungarian stage actors, Judit Ladinek, Nikolett Gallusz, Éva Auksz, András Stohl, Sándor Tóth, Kristóf Németh, Boglárka Simon, Renáta Krassy, Eszter Balla, Eszter Csákányi, Ilona Bencze and Ildikó Hűvösvölgyi have been cast in the adult roles of the production.
The title role is extremely difficult as it requires the child actors to be able to say prose, sing and dance including step and ballet. The cast of the premiere and the subsequent performances was announced following a year-long series of casting that began on 7 March, 2015. About 100 children aged 9 to 12 arrived to the casting from all over Hungary and beyond, later another 50 arrived. There was even one who was only 7.
The jury consisted of Tamás Solymosi, director of the Hungarian National Ballet, director Tamás Szirtes, vocal teacher Mária Toldy, choreographer Ákos Tihanyi, as well as the two conductors of the production: Géza Köteles and István Silló. The final exam took place on 10 February, when new members joined the panel: György Szakály, rector of the Hungarian Dance Academy, Gyula Sárközi, manager of the Madách Musical Dance School, Mónika Barna, docent of the Hungarian Dance Academy, ballet master Pál Csillag, and all those teachers who had helped the children prepare for a year. As in the first year the Hungarian State Opera plans to put the musical seventy times on stage, the board chose seven “Billys” and five “Michaels”. In addition, 29 girls aged 9 to 12 are also going to be featured in the production.
This production of Billy Elliot – The Musical was made possible by special permission from Music Theatre International (MTI, 421 West 54th Street, New York, New York 10019 – Tel.: (1) 212 541 4684, www.mtishows.com) for the use of the material specially issued by it.
Photography by Zsófia Pályi