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Billy Elliott, Billy Elliott, in Houston, in Houston

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Was Billy Elliott coming to Houston twice in one season?

Had there been a gigantic goof? A faux pas? A lack of communication between two companies whose lifeblood is communication and the arts?

Nope times four, as Art Attack discovered after sitting down to line out the next season of Houston theater. Yes, both Theatre Under the Stars and Gexa Energy/Broadway Across America are each hosting Billy Elliott at the Hobby Center within days of each other. And yes, they're even using the same casts.

What they're doing is co-producing the story of the 11-year-old boy with dance in his heart, Fran Macferran, executive director of the Hobby Center, told us today. TUTS gets the first two weeks, Gexa the final one.

"In this particular case it's largely an economic issue," Macferran said. "The producers wanted to maximize the subscription base by co-presenting the show."

The other reason was that with the joint effort, Houston was able to get the national tour of the show much sooner than it might have otherwise, said Macferran.

Season ticket holders still get their same seats, he said. In the relatively few cases of overlap, ticket holders who don't want to go twice will have the option of a pro-rated refund or the ability to exchange their tickets for additional seats at another show later in the season.

This isn't the first time the two groups have joined forces, Macferran said. They combined to present the Radio City Christmas Spectacular national tour for economic reasons and also because TUTS has the rights to holiday dates at the Hobby in perpetuity, he said.

The one other time was Spamalot, and Macferran said the reasons then were identical to the ones for Billy Elliott.

"It's a win-win for Houston," Macferran said.

Performances of Billy Elliott: the Musical will run at the Hobby Center February 23 through March 6 sponsored by TUTS and March 8-13 sponsored by Gexa Energy Broadway Across America. For ticket information go to www.broadwayacrossamerica.com or www.tuts.com or www.thehobbycenter.org

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