(LONDON) — Now that the Olympic torch has made its way through the streets of London, even passing Prince William and Kate Middleton at Buckingham Palace, excitement is building for the opening ceremony. But as the world watches, the one question on everyone’s mind is: Who will light the cauldron at Olympic stadium?
Thousands of people packed London’s Hyde Park as the torch made its last stop before the official start of the games Friday night. Nearly 60,000 spectators, including the world’s top athletes, will be on hand to witness the extravaganza.
At the helm of the ceremony is British film director Danny Boyle, who won the 2008 best director Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire. Boyle plans to use the ceremony to celebrate England’s history, offering a healthy dollop of the country’s pop cultural exports, from Shakespeare to James Bond. Current 007 Daniel Craig is expected to attend Friday night’s spectacle.
Early reports indicate that the ceremony will include a pastoral countryside and 120 farm animals — including 70 sheep, 12 horses and three cows. There is also talk of a fake rain cloud, for effect. The full look is said to resemble a live movie, taking viewers through years of Great Britain’s history.
On Friday morning, glimpses of last-minute rehearsals with Boyle’s cast and crew of 10,000 could be seen, while the 86-track play list for the three-hour show leaked to the British press.
Included on the track are some British staples — “God Save the Queen” will be heard, as Queen Elizabeth II will be in attendance. But Boyle, also known for edgier fare such as 1996’s Trainspotting, has opted to use the grimier Sex Pistols version of the anthem.
There will also, of course, be plenty of Beatles selections, and Paul McCartney will lead the crowd in a sing-along.
Although the masses won’t know who will be the last person to hold the Olympic torch and light the cauldron, excitement is at a fever pitch, particularly among some of the athletes, who have spent years working and sweating and hoping to reach this moment.
“I’m ecstatic,” U.S. boxer James Herring told ABC News. “I’m really excited just to see the performers and the show that they will be putting on for us, so I’m just — really just filled with energy right now.”
American diver Abby Johnston said that the ceremony will make her realize her dream is finally coming true.
“I’m still like — is this real? Am I really here?” she said. “And I think being at the opening ceremonies will really make it sink in.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Lauren del Valle, CNN
Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN