There were many who liked the opening night of “Billy Elliot”, but this reviewer was not thrilled with the performance. As you may know, I try to find the good in every show that I cover; nevertheless, this presentation will not be getting five stars.
Unlike Jersey Boys and West Side Story, that contained some colorful language and adult content, this was not the environment in which to bring children. Even though there were numerous children in the cast, the musical has too much swearing. You may not want to explain what “piss-off” means and it is used a lot. Although Elton John wrote the music, the songs in this musical were not Johns’ best written work. Even if the tunes were unrecognizable, the orchestra was superb.
A young lad (Billy Elliot) helps to take care of his Grandma who lives with him, his Dad and older brother during a time when there is a coal-miners’ strike in merry old England. Billy’s Dad sends him to learn the art of boxing at a local gym, but Billy gets a taste of ballet from a class that is shared at the gym. The dance teacher sees Billy’s unique dancing ability and argues with his Dad about Billy’s extracurricular activities. Billy wins and starts local ballet, yet his teacher sees that his talent should be developed with professional schooling.
The “tap dancing” and “ballet” are well choreographed and performed by all cast members, but a young man putting on dresses, even if he is pretending, dreaming or whatever; is beyond my imagination. Ballet or any type of dance is fine for a “male”, as long as he maintains his masculinity. Billy survives family ridicule and releases his frustrations in an “Angry Dance”, that’s a little reminiscent of a segment in the movie “Footloose”. If you like ‘dance’, then Billy Elliot may be somewhat entertaining.
Billy’s dream was to be a professional dancer even though the odds were stacked against him. The ‘dream dance sequence’ was masterfully done. After a while Billy’s father realizes that Billy might have a talent after all and Billy is scheduled to audition for a prestigious school. It was a little like a scene from the movie “Flash Dance”. Does he or does he not get accepted? You’ll have to go and see for yourself. If you do attend, you may want to bring a cover-up because it’s a little chilly inside the theater.
If you don’t see any more coverage from this reviewer, then you know that this review did not go-over well with the event sponsor, but it is the ‘opinion’ of this writer, and everyone has one.