Friday, November 28, 2008

Billy Elliot Coming to Korea! - New Movie Rumored

Elton John and the creative team behind Billy Elliot the musical have been mulling over the prospect of turning the show into a movie.

Yes, we know the show was based on a film in the first place, but that movie, released in 2000, didn't have an original score. Rather, it had the protagonist dancing to T.Rex and The Clash. The movie of the musical would vary considerably.

'It's an idea that has been kicked around and discussed, but the point is it has to be vastly different from the original Billy Elliot film,' said Eric Fellner, co-chair of Working Title, the studio which is the controlling force behind the film that came out in 2000 and the stage production, which has become a success not just at the Victoria Palace but also in Australia - and New York, where it's the hottest show on Broadway this year.

The musical is based on the film version written by Hall, directed by Stephen Daldry and choreographed by Peter Darling, in which Jamie Bell played the eponymous miner's son who realised he could pirouette from the pits to the barre.

'I feel I've finally got it right with regards to stage musicals - and there might be
more we can look at, with a film of the show,' Elton told me in New York recently.

Lee Hall, who also wrote the film's screenplay and penned the stage show's lyrics and 'book' said the film of the musical was 'something that's in the ether' and he felt it would be an opportunity to look deeper into what the miners and their families went through during the year-long strike in 1984.

Elton's stage score cleverly combines a wide range of styles from disco to choral anthems, ballads to working- class folk songs, and it gives a tremendous sense of time and place.

Elton would write more numbers for a possible movie, although that would depend on how Hall structures his screenplay.

David Furnish, an executive producer of the show, insisted a movie wasn't something that would happen soon.

Indeed, Hall has to write a script that persuades the others that it's a project worth pursuing.

In any case, with the show just beginning its advance around the globe - Sydney, New York, Melbourne. . . and next year Korea! - there's no urgency for a screen version.

Also, all of the creative team have other projects to fulfil first. Billy Elliot continues at the Victoria Palace, where it remains the best musical in the country.

Watching Billy Elliot on various stages around the world, I have been struck by how disparate audiences react.

I believe they're all moved by the sense of loss of community, disruption of family and, ultimately, the generosity of those who had nothing, but decided to give something to help a child achieve his dream.

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