Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Theatre vote on Thatcher death song

The second act of the musical Billy Elliot begins with the song Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher

Audience members at the West End production of Billy Elliot were asked to decide whether a song anticipating Margaret Thatcher's death should be performed hours after she passed away.

The second act of the musical, which is set during the miners' strike, begins with the song Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher which has lyrics that refer to celebrating the death of the former prime minister.

It was announced earlier that the show, staged at the Victoria Palace Theatre, would go ahead as planned but that no decision would be made on the song until just before the performance began at 7.30pm.

A Billy Elliot insider said: "It was taken seriously and debated and finally decided that it would be best to put it to a democratic vote to the audience.

"It was a near unanimous verdict to keep the song in and go ahead. It was an electric show."

Only three audience members voted against the song being performed in the light of Baroness Thatcher's death.

Producers of hit stage production The Audience, which features a lengthy scene portraying Baroness Thatcher, also went ahead.

Playwright Peter Morgan introduced the evening's show to make note of Baroness Thatcher's death, in what the producers described as a "mark of respect".

In the production Haydn Gwynne plays the former prime minister and is seen in conversation with the Queen, played by Dame Helen Mirren.

The play, one of the hottest tickets in the West End, is based around a series of private audiences between serving PMs and the monarch, at a number of key moments during her reign.

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