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Billy Elliot could use some Peter Pans

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LONDON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- "Billy Elliot: the Musical" is constantly battling an age old problem in mounting the hit London show -- its stars keep growing up.

The show -- nominated for nine Olivier Awards -- may soon be seen in Japan, Germany, Canada, Australia and the United States, if Director Stephen Daldry gets his way, the Guardian reported Thursday.

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"We want to broaden out the show worldwide," Daldry told the newspaper.

But first, he has to meet the challenge of finding enough young lead actors for the title role. The London musical rotates seven young boys in the role of Billy and they not only have to sing, but have to learn ballet.

Among the upcoming crop of Billys in the London production are Chinese, black, Irish and American boys, Daldry said.

Pennsylvania native Colin Bates caught Daldry's eye during New York auditions for an eventual Broadway production. But he knew by the time the show makes it to New York, Bates would have outgrown the role, Daldry said.

"It was immediately apparent that he had almost uniquely nearly all the skills needed right off," Daldry said. "But there wasn't much time -- he is 15, and his voice hasn't broken."

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Bates is traveling to England to star in the London show instead.

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