THE writer of Billy Elliot the Musical along with the touring company staging the hit show today (Tuesday, April 12) visited the town where the story is set to give a cash boost to a charity that helps fight disadvantage in the community.
Lee Hall, along with members of the stage production, were in Easington, County Durham, to give a cheque of £59,438 to East Durham Trust chief executive Malcolm Fallow £59,438, on behalf of the show.
The donation comprised the proceeds of all tickets sold for the show’s final performance at London’s Victoria Place Theatre on Saturday April 9, together with donations made by theatre patrons at bucket collections throughout the show’s final week.
The presentation took place at the Easington Social Welfare Centre, formerly the Easington Colliery Miners’ Institute, which is in the heart of the former Durham coalfield and was a key location during the 1984/85 Miners’ Strike.
East Durham Trust is the flagship voluntary and community sector organisation for the East Durham area, established to counteract the effects of social and economic deprivation through a range of practical, community-based programmes.
Billy Elliot the Musical played its final performance after 11 years and 4,600 performances as the theatre closes for refurbishment.
Before to the final performance in London, Mr Fallow was invited to the stage by Billy Elliot director, Stephen Daldry, to introduce the work of East Durham Trust to the audience.
Ties to the Easington community continued when the Easington Colliery Band, who last week performed for guests arriving at the press night performance of Billy Elliot the Musical at the Sunderland Empire, took to the stage to play at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
Mr Fallow said: "We are absolutely blown away by this fantastic gesture. The money will mean that vital support services for people in disadvantaged communities across the former East Durham Coalfield can continue and help more people.
“This isn't just about the money it's also the message of solidarity and support that comes with it."
Mr Hall said: “We felt it was really important to try and put something back into the community. “During whole process from making film to now, we have been keeping in touch to raise bits of money and feed it through.”
Eric Fellner, producer and co-chairman, Working Title Films, said: “We are delighted to be supporting East Durham Trust, a charity that resonates only too well with Lee Hall’s heart-warming story of Billy and his family.”
Billy Elliot the Musical runs until April 30. Box office: 0844 871 3022.