Please indulge me today as I’m going to sing the praises of Billy Elliot the Musical which has been playing at the Victoria Palace theatre, London since March 2005.
The last time I saw the show was in September 2006 and, perhaps because I was pre-occupied with my youngest son being ill that night, it didn’t have the same impact on me as it did when I watched it yesterday afternoon.
In fact, I felt like I was watching the show for the first time because I really couldn’t remember anything about the previous performance. Now it may well be that the show has evolved over the years as shows generally do in order to keep them fresh for audiences & actors alike, but I swear that most of what I saw yesterday didn’t happen the first time around!
So, this time I took the boys with me and was pleased to see that even on a weekday Matinee both the Stalls and Dress Circle were full of enthusiastic people, mainly families, from all over the world.
The show’s opening and closing songs are both centred on a group of miners in the North East during the strikes of 1984 and through-out the story of young Billy Elliot aspiring to dance with the greats at the Royal Ballet School the focus rarely falls away from the miners struggle. However, this is by no means a hard-hitting political drama with very few laughs. Far from it, the comedy is in abundance – mainly from the children’s characters – but there are also laugh-out-loud moments with Billy’s Gran, Dad and brother all featuring.
What stands out, of course, is the incredible dancing ability of the young actors who play the role of Billy. We saw 13 year old Harris Beattie who had such defined calf muscles that even Rudolf Nureyev would have been envious! There is a magical scene where young Billy meets his older self and they dance a beautiful duet to the music from Swan Lake. Another highlight for me was the tap dancing sequence performance by Billy and his friend Michael – oh boy, do I love a tap dance number (in my opinion EVERY musical should have one!).
So, to sum up … a great musical – funny, poignant, jaw-dropping choreography, a must-see for 2013!
Have a great Friday & rest of weekend