Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Working Title Films, Old Vic Productions, Weinstein Live Entertainment, Broadway in Chicago presents
BILLY ELLIOT the Musical
At The Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre
24 W. Randolph
Book and Lyrics by Lee Hall
Music by Elton John
Musical supervision and orchestrations by Martin Koch
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Thru January 15th
Running Time: Three hours and twenty-five minutes included a fifteen minute intermission, delayed start and extended curtain call
Alex Owens, Ariel Moore, Baby Houseman, and now Billy Elliot, know the only escape from an inherited reality is to dance out of it. Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Working Title Films, Old Vic Productions, Weinstein Live Entertainment, and Broadway in Chicago present BILLY ELLIOT the Musical. Adapted from the film Billy Elliot, the show is set in a mining village in New Castle, England in 1984. A prolonged strike threatens the existence of the impoverished town. Billy Elliot is a descendent of a long line of coal miners. When Billy discovers he is a gifted dancer, his new passion intimidates the blue-collar tradition of his family and community. BILLY ELLIOT the Musical is the coming of age story of a boy dancing to his own tune.
In a musical about a dancer, not surprising it’s all about the dance!
The role of eleven year old Billy Elliot is being rotated between four boys. In this performance, Cesar Corrales is the lead. Corrales is outstanding! Tirelessly, he taps, pirouettes, backflips and slides across the stage. In the Royal Academy audition scene, the production comes to a halt as Corrales receives a standing ovation. He has multiple numbers of incredible dancing. A ballet dream sequence with his older self (Samuel Pergande) is breathtaking. In “Born to Boogie,” he learns to bop from his crassly inspiring mentor (Emily Skinner) and her hilarious sidekick (Blake Hammond). During “Express Yourself,”a mini drag show, Corrales teams up to dazzle with his boyhood chum (Keean Johnson). Not only is Johnson’s dancing Corrales’ competitive match-up, his comedic moments are scene stealing. Choreographer Peter Darling uses a variety of movements to illustrate poverty, hope, and escape. Intertwining coal miners, police and ballet dancers, Darling effectively tells the tale of conflict in a visual stunner. The elaborate curtain call is the perfect, flawless, Darling showstopper!
Of course, there couldn’t be dancing without music. Award-winning entertainer Sir Elton John is the composer with lyrics by Lee Hall. The music is definitely danceable. The songs just are not memorable. They’re not bad. They’re just not great. There is no “Can you feel the love tonight” humming on the way home! The forgettable quality of the tunes might be inhibited by Americans singing with a New Castle accent. It’s not always understandable. This is true in the play’s dialogue too. Sometimes, a New Castle accent defaults to Jamaican. The language, however, is pure blue collar authentic PG-13. Despite the plethora of kids in the project, no one describes the situation as a ‘hard-knock’ life.
Joining Oprah, Elton and Billy Dec at the opening, James describes the show as a “tuneless toe-tapping time.”
Billy Elliot production photos courtesy of Joan Marcus.