When movies are turned into musicals, the outcome is often treacherous. But Billy Elliot succeeded brilliantly with due credit to Elton John’s music and Peter Darling’s choreography which enhanced the whole cinematic concept by Lee Hall.
Billy is an 11 year old boy who is the son of one of the Essington miners. The story is about how he overcomes the hardships and the family bigotry and reaches the Royal Ballet School. The musical counterpoints the community’s decline with the personal triumph of Billy.
The musical gets its push from the tension between the realised aspirations of Billy and the community going to ruins. The narrative is powerfully expressed through dance. Music and dance embodies the central idea in the show.
Born to Boogie, an energetic number in the play portrays Billy’s celebration through ecstatic movements. When Billy is denied the opportunity to fulfil his dreams and aspirations, the rage, anger and frustration that he faces are brilliantly expressed in a solo dance number. This is the scene where the boy hurls himself against the shields of the police ranks. This is not only the show’s high point but also the climax where the core theme, Billy pitted against the community, is portrayed.
The show has few cliché moments like the frequent aerial movements of the characters. Keeping all these flaws aside, the musical is intelligently produced and constantly reminds us of the physical action that can be fluidly represented through a musical.
Most of the show rests on the shoulders of Billy Elliot’s role. The role of Billy is shared by three actors portraying him through the different ages. The dedicated performance gives a strange feeling of seriousness at times.
Even though Billy is the main crowd puller, there is a gentle attempt made at balancing the crowd’s attention between both Billy and the community. There are a few ups and downs in the musical but the end result is exhilarating.