- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2011

LONDON (AP) - “Billy Elliot” playwright Lee Hall says his latest project, a community opera involving 300 children, has collapsed after backers demanded he cut words spoken by a gay character.

Hall said he refused to remove the lines “I am queer” and “I prefer a lad to a lass” from his opera “Beached” as requested by the primary school involved.

Writing in The Guardian, Hall said he had worked with the school to make other changes but that this request “seemed to come from an entirely different era.”

Opera North, which commissioned the piece, confirmed Monday that its July 15 premiere in Bridlington, northeast England, had been scrapped.

Opera North said it had tried to mediate between Hall and the school and regretted that “both sides have been unable to move forward.”

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