Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh Billy!

Billy Elliot is everything musical theatre should be! It's the story of a boy, Billy Elliot, growing up in a mining town in England in turmoil due to a violent and oppressive strike under the reign of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Billy's mother has died and he's living with a grieving, neglectful father, an angry brother and a senile grandmother. He accidentally gets involved in ballet class and his life changes from that moment. This was first a 2000 movie . Elton John and his partner David Furnish saw an early screening of it in Cannes. David immediately imagined it as musical theatre and the rest has become history, as it was created first for the West End and then Australia before finally opening on Broadway in November of this year.

I have been excited to see it, although I went in with trepidation. Beth and I sat in center seats, on the very last row of the Imperial Theatre. My trepidation immediately melted away as the first scene opened. Even from that distance, I felt like I was on stage with the cast I was so carried away. The role of Billy is shared by three young actor/dancers. Our Billy was David Alvarez. The story is beautiful, fun and bright, despite moments of fright when the miners are involved in violence and oppression. Haydn Gwynne as Billy's ballet teacher, Gregory Jbara as Billy's dad, Carole Shelley as Billy's Grandma, and David Bologna as Billy's best friend Michael are so strong and perfect in their roles that they threatened to steal the show. The production numbers, a mix of ballet, tap and hip hop, are sometimes hysterically funny, and always rousing and thrilling. I was awestruck by a dream ballet performed by David Alvarez and Billy's older self, Stephen Hanna.

I never stopped feeling chills or smiling. From intermission until now, I can't stop thinking of when I'm going to see this show again. I don't care if I always have to sit in the last row of the theatre every time, I just want to experience it again and again.


Alicia said...

One of those times you sit in the back row you will need to bring me along with you. :)

Mandy said...

I'll be sitting in the back row for a 2nd time in a couple of weeks. Fantastic show!

Esther said...

I'm so glad you loved it! And I definitely agree about the dream ballet. I mean, my jaw just dropped it was so amazing and beautiful. Trent Kowalik was my Billy, but I'd really like to see the other two. Frank Dolce played Michael at the performance I saw, and he was very sweet and funny.

And I also agree about the supporting characters threatening to steal the show. I thought Haydn Gwynne especially was great.

karigee said...

I'll go! I'll go! Only I'm not sitting in the back. Still, it sounds like the perfect birthday night show for ... somebody :)