Saturday, March 19, 2011

Billy Elliot the Musical

Billy Elliot the Musical
by Roger Smith

“Billy Elliot the Musical” may be the best show to hit the stage since “Miss Saigon”. The winner of 10 Tony Awards, it is based on the 2000 film about miners fighting Britain’s Conservative P.M. Maggie Thatcher in an effort to preserve their way of life, and at the same time ultimately supporting the efforts of a young man who was trying to break away from that same way of life.
Billy Elliot was expected to enjoy his boxing lessons, pay his union dues at age 15, and spend the rest of his life digging coal, drinking beer, and frolicking with the lasses in the neighborhood. The plot moves forward from there when Billy accidentally stumbles into the ballet class and discovers that he likes it.
The lead is shared by several young men, each assigned to dance ‘Billy’ at a particular performance. This reviewer watched Giuseppe Bausilio, a 13 year old from Bern, Switzerland in the title role. Bausilio’s parents have two ballet schools, and his brother is a ballet dancer. Giuseppe is trained in ballet, modern, jazz, flamenco, hip-hop, and tap. He won dance competitions in Switzerland, France, Italy and the US. He has performed in the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia at the State Theatre of Bern, and the operas Mazzepa and Falstaff. This youngster enjoys cooking, skiing, swimming, reading. He speaks five languages, plays cello and piano, and knows Kung Fu. Needless to say, this youngster is extraordinarily talented, and he brought the Playhouse Square State Theater crowd to its feet.
Faith Prince, in the role of Billy’s ballet instructor Mrs. Wilkinson, continues to demonstrate why she has won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Her character very ably stood up to what she referred to as the pig stubborn worker pride of the miners who looked no farther than the mine pits and beer halls; she risked much in order to support Billy in his effort to train with the Royal Ballet School.
The list of talented actors goes on and on, and each one on that list brings a history of theater experience that makes this production one that shouldn’t be missed.
If you’re looking for that ‘unforgettable’ holiday gift, tickets to “Billy Elliot the Musical” just might fill the bill. The music for this show is written by Sir Elton John, music that the New York Post calls his best score yet. The choreography is more than outstanding; it causes folks to leave the theater wanting to dance! Sets and costumes and technical aspects that dazzle are pretty much the wrapping on this well put-together package of musical/dancing talent.
“Billy Elliot the Musical” opened in London in 2005 and is now playing at Playhouse Square’s State Theater until December 12, 2010. Tickets may be ordered by contacting or phoning the box office at 216-241-6000.


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