Billy Elliot the musical has been dancing and singing in London’s West End since 2005, entertaining millions of audience members. Due to its huge popularity it can now be seen all over the world, entertaining even more people.
Based on the highly popular film of the same name released in 2000, the musical follows the story of one talented young boy’s dream of being a dancer, that young boy is Billy Elliot. Set in a northern mining town against the chaos of the 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy takes a rather turbulent journey from his weekly boxing club to attending ballet classes, much to the horror of his family. After summoning strength and courage he never knew he had, as well as support from others, Billy’s journey is an emotional and inspirational story that speaks to audiences of all ages.
Right from the very beginning the feeling of unity and solidarity is really strong, and continues to run through the entire show until the very end. This is evident in the story and songs, but is truly brought to life by a company of talented performers that work seamlessly with one another. The title role of Billy is played by different young performers, these young boys have undertaken a huge task but they certainly exceed all expectations. Mastering the tricky northern accent, learning the lyrics and dialogue as well as the complex and demanding dance routines would be enough for any seasoned performer but these young boys tackle this challenge and deliver stellar performances each night. The cast is actually made up of a lot of young performers who also deliver engaging and impressive performances, not only in their dance ability but also their acting skills, so much so that it is quite easy to forget they are in fact children.
In May of this year, West End star Ruthie Henshall joined the cast of Billy Elliot, taking on the role of Mrs Wilkinson, Billy’s ballet teacher, played in the film by Julie Walters. Henshall is no stranger to the West End stage having played many of great leading roles, this role is no exception. In a show full of strong male characters, Henshall’s characterisation ensures that Mrs Wilkinson is heard just as much as any of the other men, her no nonsense character is the strong female figure that Billy is missing in his life.
The beauty of this show is that it really does have something for everyone, memorable songs, quality acting, imaginative and effective sets, beautiful dance routines and lots of comedy, which is welcome against some of the more serious and emotional content of the show.
It’s no wonder this powerful musical continually dazzles audiences year after year with such a strong creative team behind the scenes. The book and song lyrics were written by Lee Hall, who wrote the film, directed by Stephen Daldry who also directed the film a brand new musical score composed by Elton John and stunning choreography by Peter Darling. Billy Elliot is at the Victoria Palace Theatre, London.
Review by Haydn James
Billy Elliot The Musical
Victoria Palace Theatre
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm
Running Time: 3 hours
Age Restrictions: Children under 7 will not be admitted. Not recommended for children under 12.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Thursday 5th June 2014