After first taking London's West End by storm just over three years ago, the Lee Hall/Elton John tuner Billy Elliot - The Musical is set for its Great White Way debut.
(Interestingly enough, I was supposed to see the show three years ago tonight, but the performance was canceled due to the 7/7 terrorist bombings that brought London to a standstill. It wasn't until that November when I was finally able to see the musical.)
Based on the highly successful worldwide smash film from 2000, the stage incarnation begins previews at Broadway's Imperial Theatre on October 1, with opening night set for November 13. Stephen Daldry, who directed the movie also helms this musical. It should also be noted that Lee Hall, who is credited with writing the original screenplay, not only wrote the stage show's lyrics, but he also serves as its librettist.
While most casting is yet to be named as they dig deep beneath the Imperial Theatre to properly house Ian MacNeil's enormous corkscrew stage design, the three alternating Billys have been announced. They include David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish.
Longtime readers will recall that Billy Elliot - The Musical ranked eighth on my list of the best shows I saw during the 2005-06 Theatrical Season. You may also recall that I previously worried that the Broadway producers might find it necessary to dumb down this intrinsically British show for American audiences. Yet, by all accounts (including Michael Riedel's), this will essentially be the same production I enjoyed in London in late 2005. Riedel noted:
There's been a lot of talk that Billy Elliot -- which is set in a mining town in the north of England and pulls no punches in its left-wing politics - would have to be watered down for Broadway. The working-class British accents would be too hard to understand; the brutal anti-Thatcher, anti-Reagan, anti-capitalism stance might offend Americans; the overall grittiness might be too intense for Broadway audiences doped out on feel-good stage cartoons.Taboo it ain't. That, plus the exceptional score by Hall and John, should help ensure a giant leap in advance ticket sales.
I'm happy to report that John, Daldry and producer Eric Fellner said they decided not to mainstream the musical for Broadway.
The show New York is going to get is the one that's been playing to packed houses in London for the past three years.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Click here for tickets.
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SOB's Best of 2005-06: #8 - Billy Elliot The Musical (May 18, 2006)