Family. History. Dance. These three elements combine in the Tony Award Winning “Billy Elliot The Musical,” which is based on the 2000 Universal Pictures/Studio Canal Film “Billy Elliot.” Many movies are currently being made into musicals. For Billy Elliot, it is a transition that not only makes sense, but which opens up additional possibilities. Because the story line is about dance, Billy Elliot not only fits the stage – it belongs on stage. There is an energy elicited with live dance performances that can never be captured quite the same way on screen.
The story takes place during the 1984 - 1985 United Kingdom’s miners strike in County Durham, in North Eastern England. The motherless 11-year-old son of a miner wants to trade his boxing gloves for ballet shoes. Needless to say, his macho father isn’t happy about it. His dance teacher, realizing the boy has extraordinary talent, tries to convince his dad to let him go to London to audition for the Royal Ballet School. Despite their strike-induced impoverishment, all the miners, recognizing his desire and talent, pitch in to help with the expenses so Billy can go.
In the musical, audiences get to see the young Billy Elliot dance with exuberance, skill and flair. Unlike the film version, there are no “second takes” if he makes a mistake – each pirouette, pas de bourrée, and grand jeté is in the moment, and the excitement is palpable. This is a tough show for all the actors, especially an eleven-year-old. Four different young actors rotate in the part of Billy. We saw Peter Mazurowski, who gave an excellent performance.
Billy Elliot The Musical is terrific as family fare. It is particularly notable that in the ballet classes all kinds of kids are represented. It’s not just all petite and pretty little girls. Instead, it features students who are short, tall, gawky, chubby, even “nerdettes” wearing glasses. Marilyn, co-author of this article, was a ballet and tap dancer as a child, so it was especially fun for her to relate to the classes, the tutus, and the emotional turmoil of these young ingénues. There’s also a young gay boy, Michael, played by Cameron Clifford. The show promotes acceptance and tolerance of everyone, which is so important in these current times when bullying has become a hot topic.
The adult roles are filled with a stellar cast, including Emily Skinner, Daniel Jenkins, Katerine McGrath and Patrick Mulvey. The show was directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. Book and lyrics by Lee Hall; and music by Elton John.
If you’ve seen the movie, “Billy Elliot,” you simply have to see the live show for comparison. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should head out for the musical that includes an interesting period in history, along with exciting dancing, soulful singing, and a meaningful and poignant story.
After three splendid years and 10 Tony Awards, Billy Elliot will remove its ballet shoes from Broadway on January 8th, 2012. The North America Tour will take the musical to cities throughout the United States, starting on November 1, 2011.
Cities include: Saint Louis, MO; Philadelphia, PA; Rochester, NY; Washington, D.C.; Cincinnati, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Orlando, FL, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Atlanta, GA; San Antonio, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Des Moines, IA; Louisville, KY; Milwaukee, WI; Boston, MA; and other cities to be announced.
We predict Billy Elliot The Musical will continue dancing around America and into people’s hearts for years. Don’t miss it when it comes to your city.
BILLY ELLIOT The Musical
249 West 45th Street
New York, New York
NORTH AMERICA TOUR