Thursday, May 18, 2006

SOB's Best of 2005-06: #8 - Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre, London, UK)

SOB's Best of 2005-06: #8 - Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theater, London, UK)

"Electricity." That's not only how both the movie and stage Billy Elliots describe their feeling when dancing -- it's also what enraptured audiences are experiencing when stepping inside the London's Victoria Palace Theatre to witness the best original musical of the 2005-06 season. Billy Elliot The Musical shines.

Forget the drubbing that Sir Elton John's musical Lestat took. Clearly, his work on Billy Elliot The Musical came from the heart. The score, with lyrics by Lee Hall (who also wrote the original screenplay for the 2000 movie), climbs throughout the show until it simply soars. And then there's the awe-inspiring dancing that amazes, thanks to brilliant choreography by Peter Darling and the production's incomparable, young talent. Although I only saw one of the three rotating Billys (I saw the magnificent George Maguire), I was blown away by his natural grace. He and his teenage castmates made their moves look so easy.

For anyone who does not know the story -- helmed on film and again on stage by Stephen Daldry -- Billy Elliot is about a young boy growing up alienated from his widowed father, a striking miner. Set in 1984 against a turbulent northern England backdrop, Billy's father thinks his son is dutifully taking boxing classes, when in reality, Billy has followed his heart and passion studying dance. Showing enormous promise, Billy secretly practices for an audition at the Royal Ballet School only to be found out by his father.

Billy Elliot is rich with layered story-telling about the pivotal choices made in life, and is ultimately a celebration of individuality. Just as the score builds, so does the exquisite plot.

Fortunately, it looks as though American audiences will be able to experience Billy Elliot stateside in the next couple years. But since so many British imports are dramatically altered, often for the worse, I heartily recommend making the journey to London's Victoria Palace to see this inspirational production. (And a side note, the Victoria Palace will forever be in my heart as the venue where I saw my very first Broadway musical, Annie, way back in 1979.) For all these reasons, Billy Elliot The Musical ranks eighth on my SOB Best of 2005-06 Theatre list.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #1 - Theater Of The New Ear (Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA) (May 30, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #2 – Guys And Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre, London, UK) (May 26, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #3 – Hedda Gabler (Brooklyn Academy of Music – Harvey Theatre, New York, NY) (May 25, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #4 – A Blameless Life (Steppenwolf Garage, Chicago, IL) (May 24, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #5 – Reeling (The Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN) (May 23, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #6 – “MASTER HAROLD”…And The Boys (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 21, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #7 – Love Song (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 19, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #9 - The Well-Appointed Room (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 17, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #10 - Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Eugene O'Neill Theatre, New York, NY) (May 15, 2006)
The SOB Five "Worst" of 2005-06 (May 12, 2006)
SOB's Best and Worst of 2005-06 Theatre Season (May 12, 2006)
Billy Elliot in Triplicate on First Birthday (May 9, 2006)
Critics Sink Their Fangs Into Lestat (April 26, 2006)

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