Sunday, March 15, 2009

Billy Elliot The Musical

There is a piece of musical theatre introduced to the world a few years ago that is gradually building such a huge fan base that it's now like a giant snowball rolling down a ski slope. Many shows, much like singers and groups, have a faithful fan base. But at the cost of a ticket to live theatre, let alone a popular one, this show has fans foregoing many other expenditures for the chance to see the show again and again. Some even travel from other continents to see it, and though the show in question is now available in several continents and is still multiplying itself, the most dedicated fans will make sure they see it as performed not just closest to them, but often the one playing a continent or two away as well. The show, of course, is Billy Elliot The Musical.

If you're a fan of Billy Elliot The Musical, please leave a comment to this blog to fellow fans and those who have not yet seen the show.

I first saw the show in London in 2007. I had seen the original movie by Stephen Daldry (written by Lee Hall) and had heard the soundtrack of the show when it first came out, so I wanted to see it during my already-planned trip to Europe. It blew me away. By Intermission I was literally speechless. I looked around in a fog, half in shock and half breathless in amazement, and couldn't even speak for a while.

When the show was coming to Broadway, I made sure I could attend the very first performance. I booked myself for the First Preview on October 1st 2008 along with other fierce Billy Elliot fans from around the world who were buying group tickets together. That night I met many of Billy's truest friends from multiple continents, some who I am still in touch with regularly. It's a show very much about community, and its fans are a true community too.

The story: A young boy growing up in a tough mining town in Northern England where the miners are all on strike. His father sends him to boxing class to keep him/make him tough. It is a tough world as these miners see it, and young Billy should be prepared. After boxing class one day, Billy is told to stay late by himself to practice his boxing. He's been slacking off and seems too interested in dancing around the ring instead of boxing with the other boys. So he's got the keys to the hall which his boxing coach gave him to pass on to Mrs. Wilkinson, who runs the dance class at the other end of the hall. He sees the ballet class, is convinced by the dance teacher to give it a try and comedy + inspiration ensue. But of course, that's just the short version.

The sets: move up and down and left and right out of no where and seamlessly bring you in and out of different parts of this world--the kitchen, the stairwell and bedroom, the dance class, the miner's hall, the streets of riot-ravaged Northern England and so forth.

The music: fierce, true, powerful, moving, equal parts sad and invigorating. Elton John's score is both unique and spectacular and the lyrics by Lee Hall (writer of the film and chosen at Sir Elton's insistence as the one who should pen the show) are hilarious and dramatic and sad and joyous all exactly moving the audience as they did in the movie.

The boys who play Billy on Broadway (in alphabetical order: David Alvarez, Tommy Batchelor, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish) are each one a phenomenon. They carry the show and are on stage so much, which is why they take turns doing different shows throughout the week. Their dancing, singing and acting are all spectacular, thanks not just because of the training they had before the show, but also thanks in great part to the team behind the musical. Even the choreography is supervised by Peter Darling, the same choreographer as the movie.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful this show is. But please do yourself a favor. And by favor I mean treat yourself to a wonderful (though brief) online experience of the show. Check out the show's Website at (and choose the continent closest to you--South Korea and San Francisco, stay tuned!) or all over YouTube for videos of the show.

I encourage you to leave a comment about the show whether you've seen it yet or not. And if you haven't seen it, find out for yourself why so many people all over the world are being wiped off their feet by this amazing show! I promise you, you'll want to write a review like this (or hopefully better) yourself!

Sean Patrick Brennan
Billy Fan Name: angelenroute