With the impending Christmas season staking its claim on bank accounts the world over, the theatre fan may find it harder to fit in those much-needed visits to Theatreland as they open their purse strings with the thought of others in mind. Christmas may be a time of giving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give to yourself as well. There are always special offers to be found for an array of West End shows, including right here on the LastMinuteTheatreTickets website; lending a helping hand to the cash-strapped theatre fan. There are plenty to catch the eye, so I’ve profiled one such featured show which is sure to appeal to a wide audience: Billy Elliot The Musical.
Billy Elliot is set in North East England during the miner’s strike of the ‘80’s and tells the inspiring story of a young motherless boy who struggles with his disapproving family and community when he pursues his passion for ballet. Following the success of the 2000 film which starred Jamie Bell in the title role, the musical version made its West End premiere at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2005. It quickly won over the audiences and critics, described as, “the greatest British musical I have ever seen” by the Daily Telegraph, and earned itself four Olivier Awards, including ‘Best New Musical’.
World-famous recording artist Elton John composed the music for Billy Elliot, working alongside book writer and lyricist Lee Hall. Hall wrote the original screenplay for the film, which was partly inspired by the 1935 novel The Stars Look Down by A. J. Cronin. Stephen Daldry directs the West End production (with associate director Julian Webber) which also features choreography by Peter Darling, scenic design by Ian MacNeil, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher, sound design by Paul Arditti and musical supervision/orchestrations by Martin Koch.
Since Billy Elliot opened in the West End eight years ago, numerous other productions have sprung up in countries all around the world, including Australia, South Korea and, of course, on the boards of Broadway. A touring production is also currently working its way across North America. The West End production has recently seen the addition of Killian Donnelly to their company, who has previously been seen as ‘Enjolras’ in Les Miserables and, most recently, as ‘Raoul’ in The Phantom of the Opera. He can now be seen in the role of Billy’s older brother ‘Tony’, joining continuing cast members Gillian Bevan (Mrs Wilkinson), Deka Walmsley (Dad) and Ann Emery (Grandma); Emery created the role in the original 2005 company and, with the exception of a brief break in 2010 to play ‘Mother Dear’ in Betty Blue Eyes, has remained with the musical since then.
I last saw Billy Elliot a few years ago, when my sisters and I surprised our dad with a visit for his birthday. It is a wonderful show, infused with a perfect balance of humour and sentiment. There are a number of powerful scenes, perhaps most notably the one in which a letter from Billy’s dead mother is read/sung by Billy, mum and Mrs Wilkinson, and of course, the dance routines are just spectacular to watch. I’ve been swearing that I will go again soon as my daughter has never seen it – she is a big fan of musical theatre and anyone who loves the genre must have Billy Elliot as part of their theatre experiences.
If you have never seen Billy Elliot then I highly recommend you pay a visit to the Victoria Palace Theatre, and if you have, then I’d urge you to go again as you just cannot see this musical enough times. As British a musical you could possibly get, Billy Elliot will send you home with a smile on your face and a jete in your step!
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 29th November 2012