BILLY ELLIOT: Music Elton John, Book and Lyrics, Lee Hall.
Birmingham Hippodrome to 29 April
Tour to 17 June
Tickets (Hippodrome): 0844 338 5000
Tour Dates and Tickets
Revie: Alexander Ray Edser, 08 March 2017
A very special show indeed.
Billy Elliot does what musicals do best – tell big complex stories in a simple way – and it does it brilliantly. It is, of course, a heart-warming story about a boy who achieves his ambition – to be a ballet dancer. But it is is a platform on which to build something far more profound; it is about aspiration, it is about being true to yourself, and it is about the political and wilful destruction of mining communities. Looking back on it we may see that change was inevitable, but the brutality with which it was done was not.
The book marvellously weaves the personal and the political threads together, they are further bound together in sharing the same acting space. The happy ending for Billy cannot be sentimental; it is tinged with the sadness of the other story. The contrasts are thrillingly dramatic; theatre story-telling at its very best.
At the centre of this is Billy, at the Press Performance played by Lewis Smallman. He plays with great confidence, is able to catch the shifting rhythms and dynamics of the play. He sings and dances with panache; his big show dance in the second half, which incorporates elements of classical, street, jazz and gymnastics, all executed at lightning speed, is simply totally breath-taking.
All elements of the production sit unobtrusively supporting the powerful story. Elton John’s music is effective and strong on ‘anthems’. Ian MacNeil’s settings are under-stated but reflect perfectly the background of the characters. All performances are strong, all characters having their special moments.
There is no doubt about it, this is fabulous.