You may be familiar with the story from the film – a miner's son stumbles into a ballet class and discovers an unlikely passion for dance – but the musical takes the tale to another level.
If you cried and laughed at the film (released in 2000) starring Yours' favourite Julie Walters and a young Jamie Bell, then the musical will blow you away.
Like the film, Billy Elliott is set in a gritty northern town in the Eighties, against the tough backdrop of the miners' strike. The stage adaptation beautifully contrasts the tension and anger of the striking miners with a gentle teenage boy coming to terms with his mum’s death and finding he has an unexpected gift for dance.
The songs, with music composed by none other than Elton John and lyrics by the book’s author Lee Hall, are funny, rousing and touching in equal measure. I challenge everyone not to cry at ‘Dear Billy’, laugh at ‘Merry Christmas Margaret Thatcher’, or be thoroughly moved by the opening number ‘The Stars Look Down’.
The performances of the whole cast are impeccable. Multi-award winning West End and Broadway actress Ruthie Henshall is a perfect as Mrs Wilkinson, the jaded dance teacher (Julie Walters’ character in the film).
Deka Walmsley plays Billy’s tough Northern dad with grit and pathos. Grandma, played by Ann Emery (Mrs Meaker in Rentaghost and Dick Emery’s half sister!) is hilarious when she sings ‘We’d Go Dancing’.
The boys and girls who play Billy, his cross-dressing friend Michael, and the girls of the ballet school do change regularly, but I have no doubt they’re all as talented and professional as the youngsters that were performing on the night I went. As you would expect, the dancing is truly spectacular throughout the show.
Overall you are guaranteed and absolutely wonderful night out. One word of caution though there is quite a lot swearing – it is all used in context (and said with a charming northern accent) – but if you’re easily offended by swearing this wouldn’t be for you.
Billy Elliott is booking now into 2015
Victoria Palace Theatre Box Office 0844 248 5000
(Mon – Sat, 10am – 8.30pm)
Ticket prices vary from £20.70 to £68.70
For more information visit: http://billyelliotthemusical.com
Or, why not bring the magic of London’s West End into your very own living room with Billy Elliott: The Musical Live? Available from November 24 on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download.
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