Billy Elliot the Musical Review - Understudy Utterly Unbelievable

You’ve heard the old saying: “Break a leg”.  So what happens when your leading star Noah Parets breaks an arm?  Well, the show must go on.  Exactly one week from its January 17 grand opening performance of Billy Elliot the Musical at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts/McCoy Rigby, Noah broke his arm during a routine practice of acrobatics.  This turn of events forced Director Brian Kite, with the help of Noah and family, to quickly search for a new leading star.

Mitchell Tobin and Vicki Lewis (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont)

In waltzes, or rather, in pirouettes Mitchell Tobin.  To use words in unison with the verbiage often used throughout the musical, the end result was “bloody brilliant”.  Mitchell, a 14-year old witty and charming lad was hailed in from Florida to reprise the role of Billy Elliot with only five days to rehearse before opening night.  His strong presence, yet vulnerability on stage allowed the audience to connect to his charisma, as he portrays a young boy, who struggles to follow his passion for dance and make his dreams come true during turmoil in the 1984 strike against the Thatcher termination of British coal mines.  Mitch’s comicality and extraordinary performance topped the show as he sang, danced, and used his acrobatic skills to captivate the audience.  His compelling acting abilities and English brogue led the audience to laughter, tears, and cheers with a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

Mitchell Tobin and Jake KitchIn (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont)

The cast, as a whole, was remarkable.  Charming, fun, and entertaining, Billy Elliot the Musical was one of those musicals that permitted a multitude of talent to flourish.  Strong performances by David Atkinson and Stephen Weston, Billy’s dad- Jackie Elliot and brother Tom respectively, gave an understanding of the importance of a united family.  Vicki Lewis whose portrayal of Mrs. Wilkinson, the dance teacher, added a convincing energy and vitality that was necessary to offset the serious nature and dismal reality of the Thatcher strike.

David Atkinson and Mitchell Tobin (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont)

In addition to Mitchell Tobin’s stellar stage performance, it was the young supporting cast that impressed me the most which allowed this musical to triumph.  Jake Kitchin, exuded a vibrancy of humor and skill as he pranced around the stage to shouts of laughter and praises as he portrayed Michael, Billy’s eccentric, girl-dressing friend, who encourages and supports Billy’s dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.  Likewise, Benni Ruby, in her debut at La Mirada Theatre/McCoy Rigby, did an outstanding job as one of the ballet girls.  Albeit a smaller role, Benni’s enthusiasm, passion, and respect for her role, permeated through to the audience.  Even amidst a stage full of actors, Benni easily sparkled through, as her delightful personality made you smile and enjoy the show.  Similarly, R. J. Higton did an amazing role in his first performance with La Mirada Theatre/McCoy Rigby as posh boy and his commitment to his singing and dancing were commendable.

Vicki Lewis (center) stars with the Ballet Girls including Benni Ruby (right) (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont)

Billy Elliot, the Musical provided a night full of sentiment and awe as the actors were enchanting, spirited, and alive with an abundance of discipline that was clearly evident in last night’s opening.  Keep in mind that with a musical that is so strong-willed and full of emotion comes strong language as well.  However, the strong language for this musical only adds to its allure.

The Company of "BILLY ELLIOT" (PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Lamont)

Children need to be acknowledged for their diligent work ethic and commitment to excellence, especially in the performing arts.  Many schools today do not offer the arts to our children.  Like Billy Elliot, children are our future and we must encourage and nurture their dreams. 

Noah Parets is a 15-year old sophomore from Massachusetts who has been singing and dancing since the age of seven.  Although his current assignment with this production of Billy Elliot has unexpectedly ended, he is moving forward in a positive direction toward either a formal ballet school or college. 

Mitchell Tobin is a freshman scholar and is excited to be joining this cast of Billy Elliot. Mitchell is articulate and passionate about his craft and is committed to continuing his education in the performing arts.

R. J. Higton is a 14-year old freshman who knew he wanted to be on Broadway since age five.  He would like to credit his accomplishments and thanks with Billy Elliot to Director Brian Kite and his school at the Orange County School of the Arts

Benni Ruby is a student at Millikan Performing Arts Middle School.  This 11-year old charmer truly expresses her joy of the theatre and plans to continue her schooling in that area.  Benni undoubtedly will continue to prosper in the performing arts.

Jake Kitchin enjoys his role as Michael in this production of Billy Elliot.  He prepares for his roles and opening night by continual warm-ups.  He comes from New York and is excited for future roles.

Musicals and plays that support children’s dreams are greatly needed.  Support our children of today by seeing the musical Billy Elliot. I look forward to seeing these young, upcoming stars in future endeavors.

For ticket information visit La Mirada Theatre

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