Theater Review: Billy Elliot

Billy ElliotSince living in NYC, I rarely pay a pretty penny to see a show.  But when my close friend came to visit from San Francisco, the two of us decided that we wanted to see something spectacular, something neither of us had seen.  So, I sent her to stand in in line at TKTS to get tickets to one of a few shows that narrowed down our choices. “Billy Elliot” was on the top of our list. I’m a big supporter of the arts and I don’t mind paying for quality theater such as this, but I was kind of shocked to find out that our half-price tickets cost $70 each.  Nonetheless, I knew this was a show to be seen, and when I saw Kate Winslet with her two kids being escorted to their seats (that weren’t much better than ours), I felt a sense of comfort and luxury.  There is no reason that I can’t see the best plays that hit NYC.  it was time for me to see “Billy Elliot”.

I hate to say that I didn’t see this with my kids, but I will definitely try to take my daughter one day.  I’d say the age range is about 10 and up.  There is a bit of complicated history, plus some complicated and tough language.  Set against the backdrop of a coal miners’ strike that took place in Northern England in the mid-1980s during Margaret Thatcher’s reign, it’s about a motherless young boy who wants to give up boxing and learn to be a dancer.  His family rebels against his wishes at first until they realize that his dancing will actually give him the chance of a better life.

The play is very true to the film it was based on, and the music and dancing skillfully narrate and tell the story of a boy who is so passionate about dancing that he feels it running through his blood stream.  I remember when I left the original film many years ago, I was soaring as high as the main character, who makes it into the Royal Ballet School in London at the end of the show.

The play is a unique exploration into one boy’s desire to break out of his shell.  One of my favorite scenes in the film is where the main character praises cross-dressing, and dons a dress, while singing “Expressing Yourself”.  The main character is not the only one grappling with his identity and the scene between them is endearing.  His mother died when he was quite young and her ghost shadows him throughout the play.  While his father is wrapped up in the strike, he gets support from his dance teacher and friends.  But I must admit that it was the scenes between the mother and son that had me in tears.

Apparently, there are four actors that play Billy Elliot, due to child labor laws.  So, I can’t tell you which actor I saw play Billy Elliot. Whover he is, kudos to him!  He was on stage the entire time and his dancing and singing were flawless.  There were scenes so well-choreographed that I was breathless – the striking minors and the police belting out songs in accord with the dance teacher and Billy.   Later we saw Billy and his older self (New York City Ballet vet Stephen Hanna) dancing together.

I’m not writing a full fledged review about this show.  But if you have similar taste or are looking for a really fantastic Broadway experience, consider “Billy Elliot”.  Just be sure to hit TKTS, Broadway Box, Theater Mania and hunt down cheap seats.





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