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With two Elton John musicals on the horizon (The Devil Wears Prada in the UK and Tammy Faye in the States), this is an ideal time to have a look at Elton’s impact on theatre.

Success stories include Elton and Lee Hall‘s Billy Elliot, based on the 2000 film of the same name. All three Billys in the original West End production (Liam Mower, James Lomas, and George Macguire) shared the Laurence Olivier award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. The UK show opened in 2005 and wound up in 2016. In 2008, ”Billy” arrived in New York, and stayed for four years.

”Billy” has also gone on the road. Besides three tours in North America, highlights include:

•  13 November 2007- 14 June 2009: Australian tour

• 10 August 2010-27 February 2011: first non-English version, in Seoul, Korea

•  20 January 2018-11 August 2018 Mexico, starting with Guadalajara and ending in Morelia

• 2 February-21 April 2024: nine cities in Italy

Of course, Elton and Tim Rice‘s The Lion King (launched in 1997) and Aida achievements come to mind as well (the latter running from 2000-2004). Both productions on New York’s Broadway garnered trophies. This included Grammys for Best Musical Show Album.

The Lion King has been seen worldwide, with examples such as:

• 19 October 1999-today in the UK. The Lion King is hosted by the Lyceum Theatre in London . . . where it’s been for over two decades now!

• 2 December 2001-14 January 2014 in Hamburg, Germany

• 6 June 2007-17 February 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa

Last year, Bernie was asked by Vulture magazine about Elton and Tim’s collaborations, and his response was: ”I wouldn’t have wanted to do that.” He found it ”too formulaic,” and did not wish to be ”at the mercy of the studios.”

Yet Bernie and Elton did work on a musical together. That was the short-lived Lestat (opening on Elton’s birthday, on the 25th of March, and running through on the 28th of May in 2006). Hugh Panaro, who was in the lead role, met Bernie’s mother after the opening night performance. They were spotted by at the Time Warner Center in New York City, where they got a preview of Elton John: Elements of an Icon, which included an array of the composer’s sunglasses. Ej.w saw the exhibit, which also featured costumes from Lestats 2005 preview in San Francisco, California, and a bit of Bernie’s art.

Elton turned producer for Next Fall, as did David Furnish, in 2010.  They admired Geoffrey Naufft‘s work which explored love, sexuality, religion, and family, calling it ”timely and inspiring.”

Elton hasn’t been personally involved with a number of productions, but they have used his music.Your Song, for instance, is performed in Moulin Rouge! The Musical (launched in 2019) and Almost Famous (2019-2023) made use of Tiny Dancer. Both Moulin Rouge and Almost Famous were movies first.

Could this also be the case with RocketmanOld Vic Theatre Chief Executive Sally Greene told The Sun in 2015 there were plans for Rocketman The MusicalLee Hall would be involved, and they hoped it would be staged in America and England. But the biopic was their priority for the time being.

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