Originally created 05/13/05

Elton John joins the stars for premiere of 'Billy Elliot'



LONDON - 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 woman 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."