“ One of Britain's most successful films ever gets a stage makeover with music added by legendary tunester Sir Elton John. „
Billy Elliot is not one of the musicals I would usually choose go to see, as I normally go for the more magical, colourful and mysterious types of shows but I was really glad I did go to this show. And since it is much different to my usual, I found it to be as beautiful as those in its very own way; In my opinion, even though it may not have been as enchanting or romantics as some other shows, its emotional and expressive content amongst its very gritty feel, made the show something very special. "Billy Elliot" is now in its 7th year and still is one of the most popular musicals around. It is a show that attracts a large diversity of audiences which not a lot of musicals are actually able to do. And there is a reason for this...
About Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot is based on the story of the British Film of the same name released in 2000. The popularity of the film allowed for the success of this musical show and once the show was opened, it gained interest all on its own. The film won a BAFTA for best British film in 2001 and the musical production which was opened in 2005, won the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2006. The show is a part comedy, part social-political musical.
Billy Elliot is performed twice a day - in the afternoons and evenings; however no shows on Sundays. The matinee can be seen on either Thursday, Friday or Saturday at 2.30pm and the evening shows can be seen at 7.30pm each day of the week (except Sunday). The show runs for 3 hours with one intermission in the middle of 20 minutes.
Victoria Palace is situated close to the even larger theatre the Apollo Victoria currently showing "Wicked". The best ways to get to the Victoria Palace however are either by Underground or bus if you are already in London. To travel by Underground, head towards central London (zone 1) and get onto the Victoria (blue) or Circle/District (yellow/green) line which will stop at Victoria Underground station; the theatre is a very short walk from there - you will actually see it as you exit the station. There are some close by bus stops near the theatre, so any of the buses that stop there may be even more ideal for you than the underground.
The price you pay for your ticket varies so much depending on a number of things such as which month you go and how far in advance you book; you also need to know which area of the theatre you roughly want to sit in and this depends on your personal preference too. Below are different areas you could choose from, although officially Victoria Palace offers "Stalls", "Dress Circle" and "Grand Circle".
* Stalls: Stalls are usually all on one flat level without any gradient and all the stall seats are located in roughly the front half of the theatre. They are on a level lower than the stage so you will be looking up at the stage from these seats. Even though Victoria palace is not incredibly big, the seats in different areas of the stalls section varies so much, so make the decision according to the row number offered; back rows of the stalls are bad seats in my opinion - the best of the stalls are normally in the middle, but at Victoria Palace I would say the best of the Stalls are the first few rows. Prices range from £50-60 at the middle of the Stalls to £70 near the front, to even £30 near the back rows of the stalls.
* Dress circle: My personal preference is the dress circle. I like looking down on the stage from a high level, and since you are at that height you should have an aerial view of the stage. At the Victoria Palace the layout is slightly different to other theatres as the Dress Circle here is directly below the Grand or Upper circle. I have not sat in the Dress Circle of this particular theatre or been on that level so I don't know what the experience is like there, but I would think you will have a much better closer view of the stage as you will be on a good level in relation to it. The ticket prices of the dress circle, again varies according to whether you are sitting in the rear or the front of the dress circle or whether you are sitting on the sides. Ticket prices of the Dress Circle are much higher at this level from around £60 - £65 at the back of the Dress circle to around £80 at the front row.
* Grand(upper) Circle: The Grand Circle is quite high up - not as high as some theatres, but the further back you go on Grand circle level the higher the level you will be at, though it will reduce your view of the stage at the same time. What you should go for are the front row of the Grand circle - this is not a bad view and these are the seats we had right in the centre of that front row. You should go for these because the price in comparison to the level below (dress circle) is amazing. You will only be paying around £35 - £40 for these seats. They are labelled as "restricted view" seats at that front row, since the safely barrier will be in your line of sight, but you can fix that as long as you are not bothered with leaning slightly forward. And for us, I don't think this really took away any of the good experience - the show was still the same and we saw every bit of it. All I would say is not to go for the last section of the Grand circle. These tickets can be bought for as little as £25-£20 but you won't be able to see facial expressions as much, and could make you feel slightly disconnected from the show. It might not be worth that £25.
* "Sides" & "Centre" Rows: If the seat you choose is on the edges of the theatre (like the early or later numbers 1-5 or 36-39) these can be awkward seats most times as you might not get the "full" experience that you'd get when sitting as near to the centre seats as possible and could ruin your experience I think. Prices here could be a little as £15 if your right on the edges.
Overall, when you purchase your tickets, it's a good idea to check the theatre seating plan map to see what seats exactly you are paying for and if they look as though they are awkwardly positioned in the theatres, you may be better off just avoiding them and go for others at similar prices instead. Other than those few things, the majority of the seats are not too bad and all relative to how suitably you want to see the show and therefore how much you want to pay. I have always avoided side seats and the stalls and also have never paid more than £40 - £50 per seat (for any other theatre show) and we always go for the front row middle dress circle. Always do the seating plan research and recognise what's better!
What is it about: "Billy Elliot" is set in a small industrial town in 1984 in the North of England and revolves around the story of a boy's beautiful ambition and dream of ballet dancing. When one day he suddenly learns he has a passion for dancing, it is not as easy for him to achieve the dream and progress on it, because with his father dead set on him attending boxing classes instead and possibly becoming a miner like himself and his brother, Billy confidence can't be right up there. With intense situations within the community such as the UK Miner's strike, the family are lacking the money coming in and the general living condition is poor for them - and because of that, there is a lot of anger, aggression and violence constantly around, making it a pretty grim atmosphere most of the time. It seems nothing could really change that - all until the point in which Billy takes his 50p coin for his boxing lesson, and gets caught up in a girls ballet class instead! There is fun, humour, entertainment revolving around scenes like this and it seems that "Billy Elliot" is basically balancing these two different things together, making for some very moving and expressive performances.
The characters: The character Billy Elliot is a regular kid, but seems bored and sad most of the time. Within the show, we are shown him taken on a lot of responsibilities for a boy his age, like taking care of his Grandmother and dealing with the unhappiness of the loss his mother. He never forgets his mother and we as viewers know this when there are appearances of the ghost of Billy's mother on stage. He seems to keep his feelings to himself, but things like this allow us into Billy's world. I would have thought the second most important character of the musical was Billy's father Jackie, whose simple view is that all men should be in the working industry - that is the prospect of life and the way money is to be brought home in order to provide for a poor family. When Jackie sends Billy to boxing classes, there is fury from him - but although at first, see him as a heated, shouty person, and someone depressed a lot of the times, we later see a different side develop that is tolerant, and there is also humour on stage in representing this. Another important character to the show is Billy's teacher Mrs Wilkinson, who is the partly the reason why Billy can develops this stunning talent - she is the most important person in Billy's life at the time of the show. Her character seems to be taking care of Billy and she almost comes across as a mother figure for Billy. There are lots of other interesting cast members involved with their own unique characteristics such as Billy's Grandmother where comedy is offered to us when she keeps forgetting things. Then there is Billy's brother Tony, whose part in the show/story is mostly to discourage Billy from taking on dancing and Billy's friend Michael who presence seems to be a chance for Billy to open up and also opens up the funny side of things. There are also the group of the other miners and the policemen - the miners on the whole seems pretty bad-mannered most times, they are mostly angry because of their situation, but what's interesting is that despite all of their crudeness, they are represented to the viewers in a way that we feel for them and understand where they are coming from. Overall, most of the characters that we see on stage are of course characters that appear in the film - but the way they are presented on stage has given us a stronger connection than we seemed to have had in the film.
The cast: The cast of "Billy Elliot" changed in February 2012. I saw the show just before the alteration, so when I watched it, Billy was played by 13 year old Kaine Ward (November 2011), however they alternate with other casts of Billy as well mostly due to the young ages - Ryan Collinson, Josh Baker and Adam Vesperman. Currently Billy is being played by Harris Beattie, aswell as with Ryan Collinson and Adam Vesperman. But it's clear they all do an amazing job, by the general popularity of the show. Each member of the child cast playing the characters are very impressive in their own right. And since the show is live and a large part of it is run by children, it seems to still stay at a very high level - there are hardly any noticeable slip-ups and this just goes to show up the excellence of the cast and the production. Other cast members include Deka Walmsley as Dad "Jackie Elliot", Michael Pevoy as brother "Tony Elliot", Gillian Bevan as "Mrs Wilkinson" and Connor Lawson as Billy's friend Michael.
Theme/issues: The story of "Billy Elliot" almost feels something like a Dickens tale - a young poor boy in a rags to riches tale - but instead of 19th century social issues, we have the 1980s issues of the struggle of worker's rights and Margaret Thatcher of course. Basically, the central issue that "Billy Elliot" is based on is the social political difficulties of the working class groups. Some people have believed the musical to be a moving story since is touches on typical life stories of what people of the Northern England went through. I can't say it fits into my experience, but coming from someone that it doesn't, I have to say that watching it on stage felt like seeing a true experience of a family. Everything about it felt genuine and important. I think the main reason a show like "Billy Elliot" can attract such a wide range of people and aim to please them all is because, for those who would prefer a more stronger story over the singing/dancing, this show definitely caters for that. Along with the political issues we expected from the show, it doesn't end there because, we then have other (as important) matters intertwined within it all such the dealing with death, friendship, responsibilities, and the rights and wrongs in an oppressive society. This show simply offers more than just what you would have imagined. Before I saw the show, I did think that it would be very similar to the film, but direct it's focus slightly more on Billy and his ballet. But I found that was not entirely the case - this show seems to manage to touch on a whole lot more than just that and I think that makes it very special.
The show/Stage setting: What is fantastic about the show is that although it is not as grand as shows like "Wicked" or "Phantom of the Opera", there are other things within it that really win you over. It's not just all about a massive, striking stage and set to please the audience. In regards to the stage and setting of the show, from the start we get the idea of the condition and standard of Billy's family home and establish it is pretty poor and basic, just as we remembered from the film. The kitchen seems shabby and the dining area looks untidy and scruffy. On stage, Billy's room can be seen at a higher level which is a nice touch. This set which then disappears under the stage, is later converted into a dance/boxing class hall. With chairs all around and a piano playing stage in the background, the hall could feel pretty similar to any evening class you may have attended as a kid. Other scenes brought out include a loo where Mrs Wilkinson usually has a smoke, a scene that changes into an audition hall and a stage at the Royal Ballet school; all of these settings seem to be prepared very simply but as much as it may look pretty plain, you can tell that there has been a lot of attention to making sure that we get the impression of the "realness" it needs. Other scenes consist of miners and their picketing line, and policemen opposing. We also see a lot of smoking of real cigarettes on stage, like the scene with the policemen have their dance and smoke, and even though we were not actually very close to the front, we did get whiffs of smoke drifting up to our seats.
Special effects that we see on stage are reasonably impressive, like the snow falling during the outdoor scenes, and it was nice that it was actual white bits falling from above, not just lights making it appear as snow. And of course, the most incredible scene of the entire show: the Swan Lake scene. Even if it's for this scene that you went to see the show, you probably would have made your money's worth - it is that fantastic. In regards to the effects, we see the smoke that swallows up the stage beautifully, making it look really heavenly and was probably the most magical scene of the entire show. You might already know that within this scene Billy is dancing, along with an older version of himself. And since both of them are incredible dancers, I just found it difficult to focus on which one to look at - I found myself looking at the older version a lot more, and this older Billy having more experience did look as though he was a stronger and more powerful dancer. It was a little bit distracting but not really in a bad way - both were brilliant dancers. Overall, and as you could tell, I thought the show in general was perfect and what completed it to that towering level were the musical songs that went to compliment the entire show.
Music: The songs composed by Sir Elton John, alongside lyrics by Lee Hall, may be impressive enough to let us to have our very own favourites but aside from Elton John's songs, I do think everyone's favourite musical performance is probably the Tchaikovsky musical piece of the Swan Lake scene. Other favourites of mine would include the performance called "Expressing Yourself". This one was funny, camp and just completely off the wall! It involves lots of over-sized dresses coming out on stage doing their own thing and cross-dressing boys having a lot of fun. You just have to watch it and see how it nicely fits into the show. Another of the great ones and probably one of the most popular is "Electricity". Not only is this an important part for the story, but it is also one of the most important moments for Billy himself and it is through this song (and dance) that he expresses why it is that he likes to dance, and how he feels when he dances. It is "Electricity" in which Billy happens to perform in front of the judging panel and he performs this in front of his doubtful Dad. In contrast my least liked musical number was probably the Margaret Thatcher song called "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher" - and I know it plays and important part to the story, but it sort of got me slightly bored. It is Christmas themed, with Thatcher puppets, so it just felt very tacky, but then I suppose it was the look that was intended since it takes place at the Miner's annual Christmas party. Margaret Thatcher is seen as the "enemy" of the miner's strike and so she can't be shown very nicely, but it is a fun show, and there is a lot of drunken singing, which also felt slightly mediocre. In the end though, it turns out to be quite an emotional affair, when Jackie remembers his late wife. Finally just to add one more, another of my favourites would have to be "Angry Dance" - I'm pretty sure there was something similar in the Billy Elliot film, but it always reminds me of that great angry warehouse dancing scene by Kevin Bacon in Footloose, in its very own way...Either way though "Angry Dance" just brought out a lot of emotion and that passion for dancing within Billy, which was really powerful and exciting to watch. Overall, really great music throughout that keeps the story running flawlessly.
Overall: Worth the money?
The show really does take you through a mixture of emotions which I think makes it a lot more interesting to watch. At one point you get the tension and the anger in the strikers you feel brewing, and understand their sense of uneasiness which is so right. Other times you feel happy for Billy and find yourself having a laugh with Billy's father Jackie later on, which we never expect; then we feel the realness of the loss of Billy's mother where every moment in relation to it feels truthfully heartbreaking. Also, there is some strong language in this show, but it seems to be focused as a means of representing the realities of the working class lifestyle. However thinking about it, I actually did think that even if the language was not included in the show, there is no way it was have affected the storyline in any way or even played a negative part in its success.
On the whole, what makes Billy Elliot a great theatre musical is that the whole family could definitely go together to watch it since it is bound to have something in there that will make each person in the family smile. It also focuses on the idea of following your dream which has a deep meaning to many people who don't have that much needed confidence. Maybe some kids may find a little bit of Billy Elliot in themselves, and maybe some Dads feel they need to be a bit more broad minded and open up like Jackie does and since it's a live show, the connections on stage could feel a lot more intense and deeper. I have only seen the show once, and even though I admit I don't think it's the type of musical I would really want to go and watch again, I did enjoy every moment of what I saw in the theatre that night, and I am really glad I chose to go and watch Billy Elliot over any other show, as now I really know what all the fuss was about! Definitely worth the money I paid for the ticket, and I think it's a show absolutely worth going out to catch - at least once
Last week my dad took me to see Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. He comes down on business at least once a month, normally bringing mum too and they stay with me. This time he had lots of business so stayed in a hotel near the office but managed to keep a night free to take me out! We don't have the same taste in theatre and musicals but Billy Elliot was the one show we managed to agree on. I saw it about two years ago but couldn't remember much about it so was very happy to see it again!
~~ Billy Elliot ~~
Billy Elliot is a show based on the 2000 film of the same name starring Jamie Bell and Julie Walters. It was first adapted for the stage in 2005 by Elton John, Lee Hall and Steven Daldry, the film's director. Elton John attended the premiere of Billy Elliot and was a huge fan, so the opportunity to put music to Lee Hall's lyrics was something he could not pass up. It opened in London's West End to great acclaim, receiving nominations for 9 Laurence Olivier Awards in its first year and winning 'Best New Musical'. It is still running with full audiences every night and has since opened on Broadway, in Australia and gone on tour.
Set in Durham against the background of the 1984/85 miners' strike, Billy Elliot is the story of a young boy's dream to become a ballet dancer, against all the odds., Billy comes from a working class home and lives with his father, brother and grandma. His father and brother are miners who are on strike so there is very little money in the home but with the little money he does have, Billy's dad sends him to weekly boxing classes with a 50p coin. One week Billy is late and ends up watching a ballet class and the teacher Mrs Wilkinson gets him to join in. This becomes a regular thing, with Billy using the 50p for dance classes and it soon becomes obvious that he is a gifted dancer. As Mrs Wilkinson takes more interest in Billy's new talent, he starts to dream that there might be life outside of Durham.
~~ The cast ~~
Billy - Aaron Watson
Mrs Wilkinson - Genevieve Lemon
Dad - Martin Marquez
Tony - Tom Lorcan
Grandma - Romy Baskerville (Diane Langton's understudy)
Michael - Connor Kelly
I was so impressed with the cast that we saw. Every single one could sing and dance and the characters that required it all had great comic timing. For the first time in a long time I got to see a show where none of the cast had come through a TV talent show! Wicked, Legally Blonde, The Wizard of Oz, Grease, Oliver and even Les Miserables - they all now try to grab a bit of publicity from these talent show finalists, hoping to attract a new audience in those who watch Saturday night TV. Billy Elliot does not have to rely on this kind of publicity, in fact, I'm not aware of any adverts or campaigns to promote the show and it seems to have a packed audience every night without assistance.
Aaron Watson who played Billy was simply outstanding. For a 12 year old boy he had a lovely, pure singing voice and was a tremendous dancer. Tap, ballet, acrobatics, flips across the stage - he could do it all. He acted the part really well and had good chemistry with his father, his late mother (who appears as a ghost) and Mrs Wilkinson. Connor Kelly who played Michael was a real scene stealer. Michael is Billy's camp best friend who likes to dress up in women's clothes and loves the fact that Billy dances. He had the audience in fits of laughter with his swearing and camp jokes and he was also a fantastic dancer especially during the song 'Expressing Yourself'.
Martin Marquez and Tom Lorcan played Billy's dad and brother who are miners on strike. They are two of the leaders of the strike in their town and well known in the community. They are both quite dark, solemn characters mainly to do with their work/financial situation and they play the roles perfectly. It is not until the dad realises just how talented Billy is that the audience start to warm to him when we see he is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to give his son a chance in life. The grandmother is usually played by Diane Langton but we saw the understudy Romy Baskerville in the role. She was very good and was hilarious singing the appropriately named 'Grandma's Song' all about her ex-husband who she hated! Mrs Wilkinson was played to perfection by Genevieve Lemon. I can't quite tell whether I like the character of Mrs Wilkinson. In one way, she is the reason that Billy loves to dance. She introduced him to it, got him the audition and spent hours training him. However, at the same time she almost seems to resent him for having the chance that she never did and is quite mean to him at the beginning, where as an audience member I wanted her to take him under her wing and treat him as her own child!
A special mention here to the ballet girls! They were so cute in their little tutus and really brought a lot of life to the show which is based in a town where there is not much to cheer about. They really made some of the songs and had some really funny lines between them, especially Debbie whose relationship with Billy was amusing!
~~ The songs ~~
The first time I saw Billy Elliot two years ago, the songs did not make much of an impression on me. I remember enjoying them at the time but within a few days I had forgotten them all. I can't imagine this will be the case this time as I am still singing them a few days later and am probably going to download them! It definitely isn't as catchy a soundtrack as some of its West End counterparts such as Wicked, The Lion King, Les Miserables or even Legally Blonde, but it definitely holds its own. I find that where some shows tell the story through the songs, the soundtrack to Billy Elliot is just there to accompany the story. I actually prefer it in this instance.
One of the funniest parts of the show is 'Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher', a song which is sung at the miner's Christmas party where a huge Margaret Thatcher puppet appears on the stage. Despite their plight, they sing that they all "celebrate today, because it's one day closer to your death"! Talk of 'privatising Santa' raises laughter from the audience but the best part has to be the ballet girls singing "Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Heseltine. You're a tosser, you're a tosser and you're just a Tory swine" in their angelic voices, wearing tutus! Another favourite was 'Solidarity' where the miners sing of their commitment to the cause and to each other. It's a very rude song with some bad language in it which again makes everyone laugh, but again, the girls steal the show singing the words "Solidarity, solidarity, solidarity forever" over the top of the deep men's voices.
The saddest moment of the whole show for me was the scene where Billy sings 'The Letter' to Mrs Wilkinson; the letter his mum wrote for him before she died. As he reads it out, his mum's ghost appears and sings it to him. It's an incredibly moving ballad as she tells him how proud she is of him and how much she will miss him. It reminded me of a cross between 'You'll Never Walk Alone' from Carousel and 'A Little Fall of Rain' from Les Miserables.
Towards the end of the show Billy is auditioning for a dance school and he is asked how he feels when he dances to which he answers "I can't really explain it. I haven't got the words. It's a feeling that you can't control". It is here that he sings the song 'Electricity' which is a moving song about his love of dancing which also has the best dance of the whole show. Billy uses the song as a chance to channel his emotions into dance which includes series of back flips and a pirouette which lasts about 30 seconds! Aaron Watson is a great singer but an absolutely fantastic dancer and it's hard to believe that any of the other boys who play Billy could perform this scene so well.
My favourite song of the whole show has to be Expressing Yourself which is performed by Billy and his best friend Michael. Billy goes to visit Michael at his house and to his surprise finds him dressed up in his sister's clothes! Instead of judging, Billy is quite happy for Michael to dress him up too! This is one of the funniest parts of the show, but also shows just how talented the young boys are. They perform a dance routine including a wonderful tap sequence while singing about individuality in their women's clothing - brilliant!
~~ Tickets ~~
Tickets are currently on sale until 2012 and can be found at a range of prices. I generally have some luck going through lastminute.com who have occasional deals, sometimes including a free meal. I've included below the prices from the Billy Elliot official website which shows the regular prices. The £60-65 tickets are usually found in the front few rows of the dress circle and in the stalls, where the cheaper tickets can usually be found up in the grand circle or at the back of the stalls with restricted viewing.
Monday - Thursday Friday - Saturday
Stalls: £60.00, £45.00, £37.50, £19.50 £65.00, £49.50, £27.50
Dress Circle: £60.00, £45.00, £19.50 £65.00, £49.50, £27.50
Grand Circle: £37.50, £27.50, £19.50 £37.50, £27.50, £19.50
Boxes: £60.00, £27.50 £65.00, £27.50
Knowing the London theatre websites as I do, I was aware of 'Get Into London Theatre'; a scheme that comes about in the winter months, reducing the price of tickets to some of the best shows in London as an incentive to try to get new people interested in theatre. They normally have limited seats each night and often exclude weekends. This worked well for us as we were going on a Thursday night and we found that the top price £60 tickets were reduced to £35. There was also the option of getting £34 tickets for £25. Dad likes to have a seat where he can see the stage well and as he was paying I was quite happy to go for the reduced top price option!
~~ The Victoria Palace Theatre and its location ~~
The theatre began as a small concert venue back in 1832, however it was demolished and a new, more impressive venue was built in 1910, The Victoria Palace. Over the years it has been home to some of the most famous musicals in the West End including Annie, The Little Foxes, Buddy, High Society and Fame. Posters from these old musicals are dotted about all over the building.
The theatre is located on Victoria Street right opposite Victoria Station, one of the biggest train/tube stations in London. From here there are good transport links to the rest of London and the south. I find it one of the best theatres location-wise as I work just one stop away and it's easy for me to get home. It also has the added bonus of being located near lots of shops, bars and restaurants which is ideal for a pre-theatre meal or an after show drink. The theatre is approximately 20 metres from Cardinal Place, a large modern complex housing many chain restaurants including La Tasca, Nando's, Wagamama, Zizzi, Eat and HaHa.
~~ Inside the theatre ~~
Our seats were in the middle of the dress circle, about half way down, right in the centre next to the centre aisle. I actually requested these tickets over the phone when I saw that the website had automatically allocated me the worst seats possible! We had a perfect view of the stage and dad had room to stretch his legs! I seem to remember that the last time, my friend and I got the cheapest tickets available which were at the back of the grand circle and the viewing was quite restricted!
One thing that I was amazed by was the price of the programme - £5 for the large glossy A4 sized brochure. Normally I find that the small A5 booklet is £3.50 and the larger one is normally around £10. Billy Elliot just seemed to have the one and as an avid collector of programmes/leaflets etc I was happy to pay £5 (although dad gave me £4 of change towards it - he loves giving away the change out of his wallet!).
Regarding the bars, they were located on each floor and were quite standard. Overpriced alcoholic beverages and £2 bottles of water, along with £2 mini boxes of Pringles and expensive Cadbury's chocolate! The toilets also appeared to be located on every floor which was good as I always take notice of toilets in the theatre! When we arrived I went to the one on the ground floor near the bar. After waiting outside the door for 5 minutes I found that there were only 3 cubicles and in such a tiny space where groups of girls were congregating - it was hopeless. The better news was that in the dress circle there was a ladies toilet at the back which was completely empty at the break! Result!
~~ Overall ~~
I think Billy Elliot is one of the few musicals in the West End that has mass appeal and that I would recommend to most people. Anyone who is offended by swearing or parents who don't want their children hearing it might not appreciate the colourful language but it is all in keeping with the setting of the show - a working class town during the coal miner's strike. It is an absolutely brilliant spectacle but due to the emotional aspects of the show it's not something I could go back and watch again soon or watch regularly like I can with some other musicals (the crying took everything out of me!). As far as I know Billy Elliot doesn't have a massive fan base of addicted fans like Legally Blonde and Wicked who hang around at the stage door every night in hope of meeting the stars or that come back 50+ times. However, I can't imagine anyone leaving that show saying anything negative about it.
Billy Elliot is one of the most popular musicals in London and it still commands full house audiences every night. Taking a successful film and making it into a West End musical has become very popular but nothing exemplifies this like Billy Elliot. The combination of great music, great acting and a heartwarming storyline make this musical one of the best in the West End and I imagine it will continue for many years.
A super show - highly recommended! 5/5
The musical 'Billy Elliot' came about from the year 2000 film of the same name. At the opening of the movie in Cannes was Elton John who loved the movie so much, that he decided that the story would be suitable for a musical and it is he that wrote the music for the film, with the screenplay by Lee Hall.
If you have not seen the film, the story focusses on the personal struggle of a young boy 'Billy Elliot' who discovers he has a talent for ballet dancing, rather than boxing which he is taught after school. This is balanced with the story of family and community strife caused by the miners' strike during the Thatcher era.
I managed to get some good priced tickets on lastminute.com, for £35 each which included a two course dinner at Pizza Express. The seats were in the upper circle meaning we were looking down on the stage from a height, but with a clear view.
Billy Elliot struck me as being a very high budget musical, there were many actors and dancers and the visual effects were very impressive. For example the home of Billy's family was based around a staircase which rose from the ground with Billy's bedroom at the top and kitchen area at the bottom. Being high up, you could see much of the mechanics going on, lower down I think the effect would be better.
The story is largely faithful to the film, but added in many comedic elements which we're more suited to the stage. The story of the miners was also more prominent and intwined into Billy's story. There are around five actors that play Billy which change each evening, and the child we saw was brilliant.
My only regret was perhaps not getting a better seat, it bothered me looking down on the stage as I didn't feel part of the action. It didn't bother my partner though, so perhaps it is just me!
A Fantastic Musical! Absoloutley Amazing! JUST GO!
I absolutely love Billy Elliot and have done since I saw it at the cinema, owning both the video and DVD (sad I know). As soon as I knew that it was coming out as a musical I knew I had to see it. I within the first 6 months of it coming out and it is still one of the only London musicals I have actually paid full price for.
The seats we had were quite high up but I don't think that this restricted our viewing at all and so I would actually say that due to the 'bedroom' scenes being high that this was actually an advantage.
The songs in the musical are all different to the ones in the film. They are just aas catchy though - but hard to hear the exact words at times.
The child who played Billy was very good and I cannot fault his acting.
Some of the script is exactly the same as the film but a lot of it is changed, as have some of the scenes.
I did enjoy the musical but must admit I did have very high expectations due to loving the film so much and would say that the film is better any day.