Sir Elton John with members of the GB Women's squad at Billy Elliot the musical
Members of the Great Britain women's team were some of the guests of honour at a star studded celebratory gala evening for West End musical Billy Elliot on Wednesday.
Kerry Williams, Dilly Newton, Anne Panter, Alex Danson, Nicola White and Hannah Macleod (in order of appearance above) met music legend Sir Elton John and cast members at the event at the Princess Victoria theatre, which was held to celebrate the show's seventh birthday and 3000th performance.
Before the special performance, director Stephen Daldry took to the stage. "Although we've performed all over the world, London is very much our home," he said, explaining how special it was to be back with the "extraordinary family" at the Victoria Palace.
As well as directing Billy Elliot, Daldry is London 2012 Ceremonies executive producer, working on the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for this summer's Olympic Games. Thanking guests for attending, Daldry singled out the GB team in the stalls, prompting a spontaneous round of applause and cheers from the audience.
The reaction to the presence of the team from theatre goers, young cast members and Sir Elton himself was simply stunning. The GB team were swarmed by youngsters looking for photographs with hockey's heroines and there were even 'good luck' wishes from visitors from Australia and the United States, who were sat near the athletes.
The team met Sir Elton John on the red carpet and posed for photos with the music maestro, who wrote Billy Elliot the musical and later spoke from the stage of his pride and love for the story and the friends he has made from it. Afterwards, the team was invited on stage, behind the curtain, to meet the cast and posed for photos with a birthday cake. It didn't take long for the young Billy actors to shove each other's faces in it!
Afterwards, with excitement bursting, Beijing Olympian Anne Panter said, "It was absolutely fantastic! I have to admit I didn't expect my first red carpet appearance to be in a GB tracksuit! But meeting Elton John and the incredibly talented young Billys was an amaz.ng experience that I won't be forgetting for a long time!"
Alex Danson, who is hoping to become a teacher in the future, couldn't hide her excitement either, adding, "It was such a good night! He [Sir Elton] was so nice. He was so genuinely enthusiastic for this summer and the Olympics. I loved getting to meet the young actors that play Billy and Michael. They were explaining to us how they train full time all day and then go out and perform at night. It's very much like we do as Olympic athletes. I think that's what Elton understood. There's a lot in common between the theatre and sport."
Despite stories circulating the Princess Victoria theatre on Wednesday, Sir Elton was giving nothing away about rumours that he is to perform on Finals Day at the Investec London Cup. "You'll have to buy a ticket to find out," he might have said, with a wink in his eye.*
Check out the girls' photo on the Billy Elliot Facebook page or visit billyelliotthemusical.com for tickets to the show.
Like Sir Elton, you can have a day with Great Britain's hockey stars next week at the Investec London Cup. Members of Great Britain's men's and women's squads will be hosting tables at the EHB's Annual Awards on Saturday, 9 June, in Chiswick.
The Awards recognise the best of hockey over the past season and feature prizes for winners from grassroots to the elite stars of the sport. Take the chance to quiz them personally on their hopes and dreams for Olympic success and find out more about their meeting with Sir Elton John. Tickets on sale here priced at just £85 per person including premium tickets to Investec London Cup semi finals day, a three course meal with wine and unrivalled access to GB's Olympic hockey stars.
*for the record, this may be our imagination. But you'll have to come along to find out.