The London-originated play that was based on the movie, “Billy Elliot” takes place in the 1980s with late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s fight with the National Union of Miners (NUM). The NUM’s response was a strike from 1984-1985. Alongside the topic of the strike, there are plenty of other issues that are addressed in the play such as social class order, sexuality, cross-dressing and, most obviously, male dancing.
You will quickly fall in love with the character of Billy Elliot, who is surrounded by all of the previously mentioned concerns. Both his father and brother are in mining and he is expected to follow. His newly found love of dance, as well as the the fact that his best friend, Michael, cross-dresses, causes him not only to question, but to have to defend his sexuality in addition to his love of ballet.
While the plot itself is engrossing and the coordinated and exact dances are awe-inspiring, the music itself is not very personable. Although the music was written by the great Sir Elton John, who has produced many hits, the score of this musical will not leave you walking away from the theatre whistling, unlike most show tunes. They are not catchy and are rather distracting from the awesome dancing. In some scenes the music was unnecessarily loud.
Also, though the main character could dance and act very well, his voice left something to be desired. Perhaps it is because it was a little high (though that shows that he was the right age for the part) or his throat was a little scratchy. Regardless, his singing was a little disappointing.
Overall, despite its shortcomings, the dialogue was witty as well as humorous and the performers did a very good job. It was just not the top of the list for the best plays ever.
The musical runs through May 13, 2012 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.