Billy Elliot the Musical Review - An Experience to Remember

The crowd waiting to see Elton John (Photo:B.Keer)

Approaching the Oriental Theatre my companion and I observed a huge crowd watching and waiting, packed quite closely with eyes on the celebrities being interviewed and then watching for more celebrities. Billy Elliot the Musical celebrated its opening with creators Stephen Daldry, Lee Hall and Elton John attending the performance.  Excitement was in the air.  The crowd watched and wondered, “Where was Elton John?”

Oriental Theatre

Taking our seats after the initial excitement of the crowd, we opened our programs and were immediately moved seeing the dedication to the families of the West Virginia miners.  This made the opening scenes of the miners in Sunderland, England even more poignant and powerful. Aha, Elton John finally walked through the doors and through the crowd to his seat ready for the show to begin.

Crowd watching for Elton John to enter

Billy Elliot the Musical is the story of one boy's efforts to make his dreams come true despite the difficulties his family and his community experience. Set in a small town (one I lived nearby for a year), the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a passion that takes him by surprise.  This takes his whole family on an incredibly uplifting adventure.

Billys in front of "Billy" poster

I loved this show.  I enjoyed it on so many levels.  I lived near Sunderland for a while and enjoyed the sounds of the words and the accents, which might cause others some pause. I recognized these people. I saw and loved the movie with the same theme.  And I dance and enjoy dancing.  But this show was over the top.  It was amazing.

Billys at the bar

Having seen all the Billys, I imagine anyone who sees this would think their Billy was the best.  Our Billy, Cesar Corrales, was absolutely remarkable.   I found the dances one after another out of the box, creative, beautiful.  As each was performed, I thought, “That’s my favorite” and when the next one came, I thought, “No, that’s my favorite”.  The breadth and range in costuming, staging, dance styles and dance execution was breathtaking.  A wow!

Billy, Cesar Corrales, in action

With the contrast between what Billy is experiencing and what his family and the community are experiencing, I felt I was on a roller coaster, and riveted waiting to see what was coming next.  

On strike

My companion and I especially enjoyed  listening to the voice of Billy’s Mum, Susie McMonagle.  A friend asked me to tell her if this performance  was likely to be enjoyable to her nine-year old granddaughter.  It was my companion who had a resounding “Yes” to this question and she would even love to take her own seven year old granddaughter-the dancing was that spectacular.

Billy (Cesar Corrales) and the dancers

It is poignant, passionate, humorous and powerful. So much so, that Time Magazine recently named Billy Elliot the Musical the "BEST MUSICAL OF THE DECADE." This incredible honor adds to the show's overwhelming acclaim and recognition which includes ten 2009 Tony Awards(r), including Best Musical, as well as Best Musical awards from the NY Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League.

Billy talks to Dad

Rotating in the title role of 'Billy' are Tommy Batchelor, Giuseppe Bausilio, Cesar Corrales and J.P. Viernes.  Starring in Billy Elliot are Emily Skinner (Mrs. Wilkinson), Armand Schultz (Dad), Cynthia Darlow (Grandma), Chicagoan Patrick Mulvey (Tony), Keean Johnson and Gabriel Rush (Michael), Chicagoan Samuel Pergande (Billy's Older Self), Jim Ortlieb (George), Chicagoan Susie McMonagle (Mum), Chicagoan Blake Hammond (Mr. Braithwaite) and Maria Connelly (Debbie).

Christmas Show

Also featured are Matt Allen, Jason Babinsky, Chicagoan Elijah Barker, Madison Barnes, Ryan Bauer-Walsh, Cindy Benson, Sara Brians, Chicagoan Tony Clarno, Abby Church, Christine DeFillipo, Alexandra Dell'Edera, Faith Fetscher, Susan Haefner, Ryan Kasprzak, Chicagoan Kayla King, Kent Lewis, Will Mann, Kate Marilley, Spencer Milford, Brittany Nicholas, Chicagoan Mark Page, Mitch Poulos, Emily Richardson, Annelise Ritacca, Mason Roberts, Michaeljon Slinger, Jaclyn Taylor Ruggiero, Jamie Torcellini, Nicholas Torres, Brionna Trilling and Kayla Vanderbilt.

Young(Tommy Batchelor) and old(Samuel Pergande) "Billy" in a dream sequence the was beautiful and moving

Billy Elliot the Musical opened at Broadway's Imperial Theatre on November 13, 2008. It features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, choreography by Peter Darling and is directed by Stephen Daldry. This production also features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by P aul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.

Individual tickets range in price from $30 to $100. A select number of premium seats are also available. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St. and 18 W. Monroe St.), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations (including Hot Tix and select Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts and fye stores), and online at and more information at

Rush tickets ($25) go on-sale at 10 a.m. the day of each performance (11 a.m. on Sundays).  Twelve (12) seats are available at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre box office (24 W. Randolph) only.  As many as thirty-eight (38) additional seats, subject to availability at select performances, may be made available.   Rush ticket limit is two (2) tickets per patron, and all seats are limited view.

After a sensational opening night performance, Billy Elliot the Musical is thrilled to announce that a second block of tickets - over 250,000! - is on sale now through October 24, 2010. The run in Chicago has been extended by fifteen weeks through.  The added performances, over 250,000 new tickets, are on sale now to the public.

 Photos: Joan Marcus


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