Hartlepool’s Billy Elliot to be beamed around the world – and Elton John makes sure East Durham will be watching

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A TALENTED teenager will be beamed onto cinema screens around the world when a stage phenomenon is broadcast live from London’s West End - and a musical superstar is doing his bit to help people see it.

The energetic dance displays of the town’s Ali Rasul, who has been playing Billy Elliot since he was 12, are set to reach a whole new audience when they are broadcast live from the West End to screens across the UK and around the world this Sunday.

And Billy will “come home” as there will be two special screenings at Easington Colliery’s Social Welfare Centre – in the village where the smash-hit film version is set – on the day.

Tickets for the Easington event – taking place in the year of the 30th anniversary of the Easington Miners’ Strike – are just £1.

This was made possible after Sir Elton John, who wrote the score for the stage show, put his hand in his pocket to subsidise the cost of the tickets, to ensure the people of East Durham can attend.

The show will be screened in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Austria.

Ali, who still attends High Tunstall College of Science, in the town, has been playing Billy for just over a year.

He has been wowing audiences at London’s Victoria Palace as he brings to life the tale of the boy from Easington who shunned a life down the mine for a ballet career.

But now the 14-year-old’s family have spoken of their pride at the fact that the youngster will get more exposure through the global screenings.

Ali’s uncle Tariq Rasul, 47, who runs the Quids In shop in Murray Street, said: “This is going to open up even more doors for him.

“He’s not nervous, he is over the moon.”

Pride of Hartlepool winner Ali attends the Debbie Barrass Academy of Performing Arts, and fellow academy members will be watching the show from a cinema in Blackpool as they have made it to the finals of Talent Fest UK, at the Winter Gardens, where a judge will be reality TV star Joey Essex.

Ali is one of 35 Billys starring in the broadcast.

Billy Elliot has been dazzling London’s theatre-goers since 2005 and has gone on to captivate audiences around the world, winning more than 80 theatre awards.

The internationally-celebrated show has now been seen by more than 9.5 million people worldwide.

Sir Elton said: “Billy Elliot has always had a very special place in my heart and being involved in the musical has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

“Broadcasting the show live to cinemas is a new venture for all of us and will make for a very special event.”

Screenings at the Welfare Centre, which featured in the film, are at 4.30pm and 8.30pm and civic dignitaries have been invited.

Centre manager Ian Forster said: “We are virtually sold-out.

“There is a feeling of excitement and it shows in the allocation of tickets.

The Pride of Hartlepool Awards 2014, held at Hardwick Hall. Ali Rasul, who won the Performer of the Year award.

The Pride of Hartlepool Awards 2014, held at Hardwick Hall. Ali Rasul, who won the Performer of the Year award.

“We have 150 places for each session.

“It was filmed in the back streets of Easington and indeed, Billy is coming home.”

The screenings, in association with Universal Pictures, mark the launch of the first East Durham Creates festival, a biannual festival of high quality arts projects and events, presented in East Durham between Autumn 2014 and Summer 2016.

Tickets for the Welfare Centre screenings are specifically for East Durham residents.

Other local showings are at Hartlepool’s Vue Cinema, at 1pm, 2pm, 6pm and 7pm, and at Cineworld Middlesbrough and the Sunderland Empire at 2pm and 7pm.