Lawrence Olivier Awards 2006:
Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Sound Design
Tony Awards 2009:
Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Director, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design
Now in it’s eighth year, Billy Elliot has been drawing in audience members since its opening night. Here is what blogging audience members had to say about the award winning production:
“The music, written by Elton John, is very theatrical and sits well with the story. It is very very funny, the language is a bit trenchant… It is also moving and at times can bring you to tears…For me, the best part of the entire evening is a dance Billy does on his own to the music of Swan Lake, when he is joined by a vision of himself as older and a ballet dancer and the two of them do a pas de deux. The stage is superbly lit…and it is simply breathtaking. You come out of the theatre totally happy and delighted” RANDOM JOTTINGS read more
“To this day Billy Elliot is playing too sold out audiences and remains one of the top West End shows, although I could not see why…Elton John’s score was truly uninspiring and the only memorable piece was the dance break in Electricity, which was the only point for me when I felt the music was uplifting and refreshing…The whole show felt very tired to me and I think the show would benefit from closing for a while and then re-opening with a new cast and some cleaned up direction and chorography.” JAYWPARSONS read more
Billy Elliot London has been collecting rave reviews from the critics since its debut performances in 2005. As well as being exceedingly popular with audiences, who have been coming in their droves ever since the show premiered, Billy Elliot has managed the rare trick of impressing the critics with its unique combination of a distinctly down to earth subject matter with out of this world choreography and singing. We’ve gathered a collection of the critical reviews given during the musical’s opening performances, so make sure to have a look at what the experts thought and see if you agree!
“This funny, touching and shamelessly enjoyable staging highlights the painful and unresolvable conflicts of feeling and ideology.”
Paul Taylor, The Independent
“Billy Elliot The Musical, based upon Stephen Daldry’s classic movie, is just irresistible. It catches you – or at least me – in its fervent grasp, and pins you down with all the artfulness of a vintage seducer.”
Nicholas de Jongh, The Evening Standard
“Billy Elliot strikes me as the greatest British musical I have ever seen…there is a rawness, a warm humour and a sheer humanity here that is worlds removed from the soulless slickness of most musicals.”
Charles Spencer, The Telegraph
“Stephen Daldry’s production is a model of fluidity and intelligence. He constantly reminds us that the special power of the musical is that it can express a lyrical idea through physical action.”
Michael Billington, The Guardian
“This is quite possibly the greatest modern dance musical since A Chorus Line.”
Mark Shenton, BBC News
Billy Elliot has been a West-End fixture for six years now and shows no signs of slowing down.
Set against the backdrop of the miners’ strikes of 1984-5, it tells the story of a poor miner’s son who finds a passion for ballet, facing the initial reluctance and ultimately the acceptance of his working-class community.
With music by Elton John, the score intertwines youthful, optimistic enthusiasm in numbers like ‘Electricity’ with the darker undercurrent of the day in choral numbers like ‘Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher’ and ‘Once We Were Kings’ to great effect. Rather than tacking songs onto the successful screenplay, the music enhances both Billy’s journey of self-discovery and the social conflict at the centre of this mining community.
Fittingly, the child actors are at the core of the production, and their performances will move even the most jaded of theatregoers. Played by Ryan Collinson, one of four boys sharing the role in rotation, Billy calls for a triple threat, and Collinson more than delivers. Similarly, when Billy’s friend, Michael (Connor Kelly) belts out the show-stopper ‘Expressing Yourself’, it’s impossible not to be caught up in the story of these two boys who just want to dance. There’s also a fantastic ballet sequence between Billy and his adult self (Barnaby Meredith) that provides the most astonishingly theatrical moment in the play. All of the children in the play present realistic, polished performances that never feel overly sentimentalised or indulgent.
The production is skilfully directed by Stephen Daldry, who also helmed the 2000 film. The ensemble weaves in and out, reminding us of the parallels between Billy’s struggle to pursue his dream and the miners’ fight against Thatcher’s plans to privatise the mining industry, leading to the closure of quarries across the country. The play touches on the value of art in society, as the community, at first wary, comes not only to accept Billy’s pursuit of ballet, but give it their financial backing and view his achievement as an inspiration to the entire village. At a time of arts funding cuts and workers’ strikes, Billy Elliot seems all the more relevant.
Whilst exploring a similar theme, Lee Hall manages to avoid the preachy proselytizing of his play, The Pitmen Painters, and we easily identify with Billy’s father as he faces the tough choice between supporting his son or his co-workers in the mining strike. And though the hulking, awkward, mechanised set has started to creak, it’s the only thing that has aged in this production with more heart than you’ll find in just about anything else the West End has to offer.
Add Your Billy Elliot Reviews!
Have you already been to see the London production of Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre since its opening on the West End stage in 2005? We want to know if you concur with the critics’ glowing reviews or if you felt that the stage adaptation didn’t live up to your memories of the film. Share your opinions with other readers by leaving your review in the comments box below!