Broadway Review: Billy Elliot The Musical
Update: Billy Elliot The Musical has closed. Catch a national tour as a way to enjoy this great musical.
Billy Elliot The Musical will come to a close on January 8, 2012 thus ending the run that started in 2009 (and winner of the Tony for best musical that same year). Based on the movie Billy Elliot, it's a story set in 1984 about a young boy who lives in a village in the coal mining country of Northern England, during the year-long bitter miners' strike against then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her government. What's special about Billy Elliot is he can dance and loves it, an oddity in the rough and tumble world of miners and their families. The mining community where Billy lives is poor but proud. We see the deprivation that the miners and their families experience during the strike, the split between miners who went on strike and those who decided to go back and work. We also see however, the pride that helps to bring the community together and to support Billy on his chance to leave the limited future of his village and pursue his talent.
After January 2012, what we will have left is the original cast album with wonderful, evocative songs but what we will be deprived off is the performance and dancing which is superb.
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Most of the weight of the singing and dancing is on the young shoulders of the actor who plays Billy Elliot. Joseph Harrington who played Billy Elliot this evening is not only talented but appealing and skillfull in his role. Harrington is the triple threat of performers; he can act, he can dance, and he can sing and do them all very well. Harrington plays Billy as an appealing, sweet, motherless, boy who has a burning desire to dance but is mindful of his talent's demand on his family. Billy lives with his widower father, his feisty grandmother, and older brother Tony. His father is a defeated man who is unable to deal with his wife's death and worn down by the demands of coal mining on his body. Tony is angry that the Thatcher government wants to close the mines and eliminate mining jobs. The miners and their union go on strike to prevent the government from closing the mines. Throughout the show we see the anger of the miners, the violent clashes with the police, the toll on the community. Billy and his friend Michael, continue to grow up amidst this tumult. There is a hilarious piece where the young Michael expresses his homosexuality in "Expressing Yourself." There are touching scenes; where Billy expresses his loneliness for his Mum in "Dear Billy", his Dad's appeal to Tony to let Billy have his chance to nurture his talent in "He Could Go and He Could Shine", the loss of a way of life in "Once We Were Kings", and the musical culminates to the climactic scene in "Electricity" where Billy conveys his love of dancing. Comedic touches abound during the play and there was a live orchestra that provided heavenly music. The songs are composed by Elton John, so it is tuneful and captures the time of the era. The set is rather simple. The dances, choreographed by Peter Darling are in the style of English musicals.
If you do happen to be in New York for the holidays, try to catch the closing performances of Billy Elliot and savor the great story, dancing, and song of a musical that deserves its Tony. Billy Elliot is showing at the Imperial Theatre located at 249 W 45th Street.
Billy Elliot at the Imperial Theatre until January 8, 2012
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