A Knight’s Tale (106: That’ll Be The Day)

Opposite Victoria Station stands the Victoria Palace Theatre.  I have attended two and a half performances there.  ‘Billy Elliot’ is quite the best stage production of its kind that I have ever seen.  During its first week, for Louisa’s birthday, I took her and Errol to see the show.  At the time the film, which we had watched on DVD together, was one of Louisa’s favourites. Naturally we had a curry beforehand.

Billy Elliot: The Musical is a coming-of-age stage musical based on the 2000 film of the same name. The music is by Elton John, and the book and lyrics are by Lee Hall, who wrote the film’s screenplay. The plot revolves around Billy, a motherless British boy who begins taking ballet lessons. The story of his personal struggle and fulfilment are balanced against a counter-story of family and community strife caused by the 1984–85 UK miners’ strike in County Durham, in North East England. Hall’s screenplay was inspired in part by A. J. Cronin‘s 1935 novel about a miners’ strike, The Stars Look Down, to which the musical’s opening song pays homage.[1]

The musical premiered at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London’s West End in 2005 and was nominated for nine Laurence Olivier Awards, winning four, including Best New Musical. The production ran through April 2016.[2] Its success led to productions in Australia, Broadway, and numerous other countries. In New York, it won ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards, including, in each case, Best Musical. It has also won numerous awards in Australia including a record-tying seven Helpmann Awards.’ (Wikipedia)

Some years earlier, soon after Becky had returned to London from Newark, I arranged to meet her at Victoria Station to take her to the Victoria Palace to see one of the opening performances of ‘Buddy’. 

Wikipedia also tells us: ‘Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is a musical in two acts written by Alan Janes, and featuring the music of Buddy Holly. It opened at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre on 12 October 1989. An early example of the jukebox musicalBuddy ran in London’s West End for over 12 years, playing 5,140 performances. Janes took over the producing of the show himself in 2004, and Buddy has been on tour extensively in the UK since then, having played Broadway, five U.S. National Tours and numerous other productions around the world. The show was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Musical.

She didn’t turn up.  Since this was most unlike either one of my two reliable daughters I waited an hour.  The only other person I have ever waited for that long was her mother on our first date, again at Victoria Station.  Having finally given up on Becky, wondering what on earth had gone wrong, which probably affected my mood, I went to the theatre, explained the situation, and asked for a refund.  This was not possible.  I asked to speak to the manager.  He was unavailable.  ‘OK,’ said I, tearing up the tickets which I threw into the office, ‘you have these, they’re no good to me.’  Storming out of the theatre in high dudgeon, I walked straight into Becky.

Somewhat shame-faced we returned to the ticket office where I sought admission.  There was now a different booking clerk.  We could not gain admission because the show had started and anyway I didn’t have any tickets.  I quickly replaced my blown gasket and again asked to speak to the manager.  This time I was invited to wait for the intermission when he might just possibly be available.  He did indeed materialise.  The jigsaw puzzle that was the shredded tickets was fished out of the wastepaper basket, pieced together, and closely scrutinised.  We now found that the manager was sympathetic to our plight.  He had actually appeared before the intermission but invited us to wait until then and enter the theatre during the break.  We were given two much better seats and tickets for a future complete performance. Is that ever likely to happen again?   ‘That’ll be the day’.


  1. I’ve been to just one musical a few years ago in Detroit, it was The Phantom Of The Opera at the Fox Theater, a great show.

  2. I don’t think I ever remember you mentioned theater shows or musicals before, Derrick. I love Billy Elliott–movie and show. I’m glad it all worked out for the second show. That’ll be the day indeed! ?

  3. What an amusing story, especially since I didn’t have to go through it! So glad you got to see the show. Where in the world was Becky? Why was she late? So good that the ticket scraps were findable and that you found a sympathetic manager. I have seen Billy Elliott on stage through a national tour that came to Arizona. And I have seen the film, as well. It’s a wonderful story, and though I am a huge theatre fan, I think it was even more well-suited to film because of the political backstory.

  4. As soon as I read your title, the song started playing in my mind. Although it wouldn’t have been at the time, your own story’s as entertaining as either of the actual musicals.

  5. HA! 😀 and OH! 😮 But, it makes for a great story to tell now! I wonder how Becky would tell it?! 😉 😀 Your title and your use of it as your answer to your ending question made me laugh! 🙂
    Both Billy Elliott and Buddy stage plays (and their movies) are wonderful! I love musicals!
    (((HUGS))) 🙂
    PS…Is that a lesson in “Don’t throw in the towel before your chickens are hatched”? 😛

  6. Well the upside of you losing your rag is that you gave the ticket attendant a good story for whenever he/she was dining with friends. I doubt there is a theatre in Sydney that would give a refund on the day, but with advance warning they do allow you to reschedule, at least once.

  7. I smiled at the part wherein frustrated you tore up the tickets. My first thought, using my female mind was I would have saved those tickets and attempted to get a refund later!
    I’m delighted that things worked out so well for you both. What a fantastic manager 🙂

    Before we were married, Graham once told a whopping lie to get seats in a supposedly full cinema. I was horrified to hear him tell the manager that he was a junior vet on call and that he’d left the cinema telephone number with a colleague.
    It worked and we were given seats at the back. I was nervous and uncomfortable throughout the film.

    Graham told me that he knew one of the projectionists who’d told him that the cinema always left a few seats at the back empty, I never did find out why this was. done

  8. I love Billy Elliot the film but I’ve never seen the musical. In fact I have never watched any musical in a theatre, ever. Richard can’t bear them and would never dream of going with me. My elder daughter, Alice worked at The Victoria Palace when she was a student while Billy Elliot was playing. She sold programmes and worked as an usher I believe, but as she was a student for so long, 2004 – 2012/13 with a year off in the middle getting work experience, I couldn’t tell you which year she was there. She got so sick of listening to it two or three times a day that she won’t hear anyone praise it without getting all aerated and telling them how bored she got. She refuses to watch the film as well!

  9. Oh well, Florida Grand Opera did not give anybody refunds for the promised Placido Domingo appearance (I completely forget which opera) that did not happen. We happily paid a steep price and were not even offered credits or any kind of remunerative apology. The same just happened with the end of season that was cancelled two years ago die to Covid. We received an official letter stating that, once the performances resume, we will get credit towards the next season. I just paid a full price for tickets to Rigoletto. Perhaps next season, I was told.

  10. I would love to see both of these, but especially Billy Elliot, after falling in love with the story in the movie. Hopefully I get a chance one day. It really is sad that such promising musicians died so early in their careers.

      1. Your mention made me recall, I haven’t thought about it in a long while. I may have to re-read. Although I prefer to see it performed. Fat chance where I live! 😉

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