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"Elliot" writer opera back on after homophobia row

The latest show from "Billy Elliot" playwright Lee Hall will go on after all.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The latest show from "Billy Elliot" playwright Lee Hall will go on after all.

A dispute over words spoken by a gay character had threatened to derail his new project — a community opera involving 300 children — but officials said Thursday a compromise had been reached.

"We are delighted to announce that the revisions which the school requested have now been made and the author has addressed the points raised by the school," the statement said. "The final libretto is now an age appropriate text which was all the school had requested."

The opera opens July 16 in Bridlington, northeast England.

Education officials had said the school involved removed 300 pupils due to appear in the production because of offensive and derogatory language, and Hall on Monday had accused the school of having dated and homophobic views.

The writer said he had refused to remove the lines "Of course I'm queer" and "I prefer a lad to a lass" from the opera "Beached," the story of an eventful day at the seaside set to music by composer Harvey Brough.

The council said Thursday that the word "queer" had been replaced with "gay."

The revisions to the script were made following "intense negotiations behind the scenes with all parties," the school and council said in a joint statement.

The two said Hall had addressed concerns over some of the language and tone related to the gay character's identity — and denied claims the changes were requested out of homophobia.