Billy Elliot review - May 2015
Now in its 10th Year, Billy Elliot is as fabulous as ever!2015 sees Billy Elliot the Musical celebrate its 10th year at the Victoria Palace Theatre and deservedly so, as this long-running show remains a genuine highlight of the West End, capable of reviving the spirits of even the most jaded of theatregoers and delighting newcomers aplenty over the decade since Stephen Daldry’s production first opened.
The secret to its success? Well it’s just so darned good in every aspect. Lee Hall’s book brilliantly sets its journey of a young County Durham lad daring to dream of being a dancer against the epic turbulence of the miners’ strike, Elton John’s score blends soaring musical theatre anthems with both folk traditions and Peter Darling’s exceptional choreography is hugely imaginative in the way it weaves dance into the working lives of this community as well as showing off the beauty of Billy’s balletic prowess.
So from the hairs-on-end anthemic power of the opening “The Stars Look Down” to the spirited ode to self-expression that is Billy’s solo song and dance number “Electricity”, there’s a joyful abundance of emotion, excitement and enjoyment that lasts from start to finish. And in “Solidarity”, there’s a sensational synthesis of all these elements as two key storylines play out simultaneously and miners and ballet students dance together in joyous harmony.
Another reason for the success comes with the continual success of the casting process to find so many – it must be 30 or so now – talented triple threats to play the role of Billy. Tonight we saw Brodie Donougher give an extremely impressive account of the part, finding all of the necessary emotion to deliver the fury of Act One closer “Angry Dance” and the deep fraternal feeling for best friend Michael (a vivacious Todd Bell) in their moving scenes together.
With national-treasure-in-the making Ruthie Henshall providing strong support as the stern but kindly dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, Gillian Elisa hitting all the right comic notes as the dotty grandma and Chris Grahamson radiating the palpable anger of the entire working class as Billy’s brother Tony, there’s not a weak link to be found in this production nor. All there is is definitive proof that this remains one of the best shows in town. The only problem you’ll have is negotiating the building works in Victoria to actually make your way to the theatre!
Reviewed by Ian Foster
12 May 2015, Victoria Palace Theatre