Friday, 13 February 2009

Billy Elliot (West End)

So Billy Elliot opened on Broadway recently, Haydn Gwynne being I think the only actual Brit in the cast over there (I'm guessing Greg Jbarra is probably not great at the ol' Geordie accent, he was no good at French in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels!) Well, tonight I went to see the West End show- for the second time.
I loved the film, but I never wanted to see the musical, perhaps it had something to do with that episode of Will and Grace where they travel to London specifically to see it "Elton John and dancing boys! We have to go!" Repeat Will's sentence but insert the word NEVER in between 'to' and 'go'... That's how I felt, I thought they'll have ruined a perfect British film about 80s politics by turning it into a big campy gay-fest. I don't know why I still don't trust Elton John, I mean, the Lion King is perfection and The Road to El Dorado is my favourite animated film! So why did I shudder at the thought of this? I blame my hatered of Will and Grace.
I saw Billy on stage last summer at the same time as seeing The Revenger's Tragedy at the National and The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Globe. Man, was that the best three days of theatre EVER!! I couldn't decide which was best! All totally different! But I settled on Billy I'm afraid because it has EVERYTHING.
Every number is wonderfully well written and choreographed, this show makes you laugh, cry and remember what a third-letter-of-the-alphabet-word Thatcher was. I cannot get over how good those kids are at dancing, obviously the kids playing Billy are effing amazing, but all the kids are great! All of them! Jesus though, it's what you go for, you can't wait to see Billy dance, and every time he starts you're on the edge of your seat watching every stunning movement. Just brilliant.
I try to pick out a favourite but I have at least three that I think are perfect and supporting numbers like Grandma's Song are genius as well (read the title you think this musical will suck- it doesn't). Solidartiy is the number I remembered loving the first time I saw the show, it's the one that shows the transition of Billy learning to dance so by the end of the song he's perfect, but throughout the girls' dance lessons are the picket-line coppers and striking miners ballet-dancing with the girls and singing agressive abuse at each other. It's wonderful to watch and has some of the best lines. But tonight I remembered how stunning the dance with Billy's older-self is. God, you sit in absolute silence watching this child prodigy and this grown ballet dancer mimic each other perfectly. It's beautiful. Billy's Angry Dance is the perfect way to end the first half, you get so emotional, you feel the hate! The anger! Great loud music and great screaming and kicking! Aside from the brilliant dancing there are of course brilliant songs- I can't even listen to The Letter without crying!
This is showstopping dance numbers all the way through. A lot of new musicals I've seen I've thought; mum and dad wouldn't like this. As soon as Billy Elliot started I thought; mum and dad would LOVE this. No green witches, no effing Andrew Loyd Webber, just a fantastic script and amazing dancing.
There is a great cast at the moment, better than the summer, Kate Graham is a wonderful Mrs Wilkinson with a great voice and the bloke playing the dad can really sing, the Billy we got was Tom Holland, he was so cute and so good- I'm sure they all are, but the fact that he had the cutest photo tips the scales for me without having to see any American Billys, etc. Of course some kids can't quite do the Geordie, and the Weegie ballet dancer struggled with his accent, but it doesn't matter, ye kna whit tha mean, like.
The cheapest tickets are by far the best tickets. £20 in the top back row, you see all the dance numbers how they should be seen- filling the stage.

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