An "ecstatic" Elton John joined a host of British celebrities Thursday for the opening night of fleet-footed musical Billy Elliot. The rock legend wrote the music for the show, based on the hit British film about a miner's son with a passion for dance. "I feel ecstatic, I feel relieved, I feel a sense of pride," said John, who attended the premiere at London's Victoria Palace Theatre with his partner, David Furnish. "I'm so proud to have been a part of it."
Also in the audience were actor Hugh Grant and his lady friend Jemima Khan; Grant's ex, Elizabeth Hurley, and her boyfriend, Arun Nayer; Live Aid founder, Bob Geldof; and actor Jamie Bell, who starred in the original film. Bell said the show--directed, like the film, by Stephen Daldry--was "the most amazing thing I've ever seen."
London's theater critics were equally enthusiastic about the $9.5 million West End musical that sets a young boy's struggle to dance against the backdrop of Britain's bitter 1984-1985 miners' strike. Critic Michael Billington in The Guardian said the show "succeeds brilliantly.... Stephen Daldry's production is a model of fluidity and intelligence." In the Times, Benedict Nightingale said the show was "tougher, bolder, and as my tear-ducts can attest, more moving than its admittedly admirable celluloid precursor." And the Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer said Billy Elliot was "the greatest British musical I have ever seen."