Billy Elliot the Musical

So I went and saw the show "Billy Elliot" on Sunday....what a great show.  Quite the refreshing experience.  It's the musical version of the movie, playing at the Oriental Theater.  At first I was a bit disappointed that the performers did not look much like the actors in the movie, but within the first 4 minutes I was already into the show and had completely forgotten about the idea of finding the same things the movie offered.  The boy, Cesar Corrales, was a very impressive talent.  His technique from a professional point of view was very clean.  He executed many many pirouettes (turns) and jumps with class, and successfully executed such difficult combinations as double rotation in the air into a turn on the ground (repeat twice).  As a dancer, we call it double tours pirouette, double tours pirouettes.  After reading his bio, I understood the truth about the prodigy.  His parents are dancers!! Love this :)
For me, the first act was the best.  It reached a nice level, I enjoyed the dancing, and I'm always impressed and surprised by complexity of the staging, the scenery, and how it fita together with the dancing and the story.  I was so excited about the production by the end of the first act that I immediately sent out a tweet about how great the show was.  But I have to admit, it may have been a little premature.  
In my opinion, the second act was a bit disappointing compared to the first act.  I think they pushed so far in the first act and couldn't bring that same quality to the second, that it was very apparent there was something lacking.  Here we find the young Billy dancing, but bring in the older Billy on and off as a flash into his future.  It was strange and disappointing.  Strange because there was a duet between young and old Billy placed in the middle of the second act (?!?!) that then goes back to the regular timeline of the movie.  It just didn't feel right or fit into the context of the story.  The whole production finishes with Billy leaving, not the old Billy performing his first big, successful role as the swan in the modern production of Swan Lake.  
And I say it was disappointing because the production needs a MUCH stronger adult Billy.  The whole story revolves around the unique, natural talent of Billy, and how amazing he turns out.  So why is he turning into a weaker performer?? (I was actually really disappointed to not see Sam Pergande perform the role of the older Billy....he is a real, amazing, and beautiful dancer that would do this role justice).  That probably would have made it!
Billy Elliot is THE character of the whole show, so as a young kid or as an adult, he must stay amazing in his talent.  They put such emphasis on how amazing the Royal Ballet is and the kind of dancers they produce, that it makes no sense that Billy turns into a casual man.  It definitely kills the whole dream and the whole purpose of the story....and trust me, the Royal Ballet dancers are unbelievable and are the whole package...the body, the technique, the face, the passion.  It's all taken into consideration.  So, what happen to poor Billy??? If you want to focus on the kid then simply call the musical "Young Billy Elliot".
I know I seem pretty harsh on the second act of the show, but I will say that Billy Elliot was a great musical overall.  It just needed a stronger second act.  I really think it was a great show and you would not go wrong going to see it (just make sure you see Sam Pergande as the old Billy!).  I'm just one opinion, and overall, it is a good show.

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  • Nice to read a critique from a dancer's point of view. Most critics can never understand dancers this way.

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