Lee Hall opera Beached goes ahead

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Emma Hobbs
Image caption,
Headteacher Emma Hobbs said she was delighted the production was going ahead

An opera which was at the centre of a row over a gay character has gone ahead in Bridlington after a school which had pulled out finally agreed to take part.

Bay Primary said its pupils could perform in the production of Beached, by Billy Elliot creator Lee Hall, after he agreed to remove the word "queer".

The show went ahead at the resort's Spa theatre on Saturday.

Bay Primary headteacher Emma Hobbs said she was sure the performance would make the audience forget the controversy.

Beached, which was commissioned by Opera North, involved the school choir and other musicians from groups around Bridlington.

The school had complained about the lines: "Of course I'm queer/That's why I left here/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And I'm working class/I'd have to concur."

Hall told BBC News: "I agreed to change "queer" to "gay" as to me they are synonymous. I would have done this months ago if asked."

Image caption,
The opera was staged at the Spa theatre in Bridlington

The contested lines have now been changed to: "Of course I'm gay/That's why I went away/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And him working class/I'd have to concur."

In a joint statement, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Bay Primary said the school would take part now that the libretto was "an age appropriate text".

The council, the school and Opera North all denied being motivated by homophobia.

Just before Saturday's matinee performance, headteacher Ms Hobbs said: "The kids are very excited. They've been rehearsing really hard this week and rehearsals have gone fantastically.

"It's really important that the work all our children and all of the other choirs have put into this really comes to fruition."

Referring to the controversy the production attracted, she added: "I can certainly say that the performance speaks for itself.

"When the audience see them in action I think that will overshadow anything really."

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