I’m going to preface this by saying the following; Billy Elliot is in my top 10 movies of all time. It was a movie that I saw when I was much younger and spoke to me as a piece to be true to yourself no matter what. It was such an important movie in my life that when the opportunity came to see the stage production I jumped at it. Was I going in with a bias opinion? I don’t think so. If anything I would be harder on the stage version because I was such a fan of the movie (Fun Fact, when I was in film 100 years ago, we had to take an existing movie and cut a trailer from the footage. I did Billy Elliot and it was flawless).
Billy Elliot is the story of a young lad living in England with his father, brother and gran during the time of the miner’s strike. He is growing in a very macho dominated home since his mother died and his father sends him everyday to boxing. It was on one of these faithful days that he had to stay behind and ended up joining the ballet class. He falls in love with the ballet and excels so much so that his teacher wants him to audition for the Royal Ballet Academy. His father and brother find out and go mental because ballet is for sissies (not true), and the whole plan goes up in smoke. All the while this is playing against the miner’s strike. If you haven’t seen the movie you need to, and if you haven’t seem the stage production well you better get to it.
With music by Elton John the stage production of Billy Elliot is nothing short of breathtaking, seriously during one of the numbers I forgot to breathe. Billy is played by Ben Cook, Drew Minard, Noah Parets or Mitchell Tobin. Each of these kids has more talent in his pinky toe which doesn’t stop moving on stage than I could ever dream of. These boys are joined by an incredible supporting cast including one of my most favorite characters ever written in the history of the world Mrs Wilkinson who was played by Janet Dickinson, Jackie and Tony Elliot (Ritch Hebert & Cullen Titmas respectively) Billy’s father and brother, Michael his gay best friend who stole every scene he was in played by Jake Kitchin (And Sam Poon on some nights) and almost every other character from the film.
This stage adaptation was so emotional. I was happy, then I was crying, then I burst out laughing and finally stopped breathing when young Billy was dancing with adult Billy and he literally flew across the stage. It was the single most thrilling theatre experience I’ve had in a long time. So much dancing, so much TAPPING (I LIVE for tap dancing) and so many children it blew me away. I think that had to be my favourite part, they mixed in young ballet girls with the striking miners and it was truly an amazing thing to watch. PS – There is this adorable little Asian ballerina who is no more than 3 ft tall and she was so cute I wanted to take her home and put her in my jewellery box.
What can I say about a show that is essentially flawless? Not much more. I could watch this show a million times and never get bored of it. What I really appreciated was whenever it got super serious there was some comedic relief especially from Michael and Mr Braithwaite (Patrick Wetzel) who was incredibly flexible so someone of his stature. Bravo! I guess the only thing I could say is I wish the Queen Elizabeth Theatre had better sound because it was cutting out or something, but that’s it.
Go see this show if you’re in Vancouver. Go see this show if it comes to your town. At the end during the 65 standing ovations I gave it, I could feel my pulse quicken. My fingertips were pulsing and my heart was racing, it truly was electricity running through my veins after seeing that masterpiece.
To purchase tickets to Billy Elliot in Vancouver, Sacramento, Costa Mesa and other US dates, click here.