Billy Elliot the Musical

March 14, 2013

Last night I went to see Billy Elliot the Musical for the fourth time. That tells you something straight away –  I am not someone to suffer a production more than once unless I enjoy it. But last night’s was extra special because a friend’s son was playing the small boy. The audience made a collective “awww” as he climbed on to the stage to sit watching the black and white film that plays to open the show. He is tiny (aged seven) and adorable and has real stage presence. But more of him later….

If you have never seen Billy Elliot the Musical, then I highly recommend it. With the proviso that it isn’t the film. Which I loved and wept at. But BETM, as we regulars call it, is different so you need to park that vision and come with a blank head. It helps to know that in 1984 Maggie Thatcher took on the miners in a bitter, violent and ultimately victorious struggle that broke the miners’ union, closed most pits and devastated communities. This harsh reality is the backdrop to the story, where Billy lives with his dad, brother and Nan and is visited by his dead mother.

The first time obviously has the most impact. The language is shocking, the conflicts between miners and policemen is shocking, the rawness, the power, and the comedy all moving. But even for the fourth time of seeing it is a great show. It has changed in parts over the years – but my memory is not great –  and of course the cast have come and gone. Our Billy last night was ‘street dance Billy’. Apparently the boys each have their own particular styles that the choreographers use to ensure we see the best of their talents. And this Billy was absolutley great.

And of course tonight I am also mesemerised by ‘Small Boy’ – especially when he does his copying of Billy’s initial forays in to dance. Beautiful and touching.  And his boxing scene -hilarious! He gets thrown around and carried by virtually every adult in the cast. He is there in every scene where the community come together. The innocent, watching life deal him his hand of cards. I am proud by proxy.

The sound quality was not always brilliant so some of the lyrics were hard to decipher at times (not just because of the north-eastern accents), but it is still electric. Billy’s main dances filled me with awe at his talent and stamina, but I did feel the acting of some of the supporting roles was not as outstanding as I remember in the past.

However, the dancing makes up for it.  There is ballet, tap, street, jazz –  all kinds and all great. There are show stoppers, tear jerkers  and heart lifters.  It was  a five star show on first visit, and today despite nothing being a surprise and the sound system not quite the quality it should be, I still give it four and a bit, with six stars for Small Boy.


2 Responses to “Billy Elliot the Musical”

  1. Cecilie Says:

    I wish I could have seen&been, but your lines are a true joy too. Hope you make sure the company gets to know of your support and enthusiasm too. Cecilie

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