Saturday, July 09, 2011

Billy Elliot: The Musical

For the last couple years we've been buying my Dad tickets to things for Christmas and this year he picked this and we decided to tag along.  I only kind of remembered the film version of this so it was nice to be able to go into it fresh.  The show's had a decent run so far and with music by Elton John, I mean, what's not to like right?  Right?...
Billy Elliot is the story of a young boy whose mother has just died and he grows up surrounded by working class people, but has dreams of something more.  So, if you know me, you know that I should have a pretty damn personal connection to this story.  First off, the production design is fantastic - which is expected.  The show looks great, the dancing is really phenomenal, especially considering that the heavy lifting is done by a twelve year old.  But this is also the major problem with the show - so much effort is put into the spectacle of the show that they didn't bother making me care.  First off, I know history, and even I was confused by all of the Strike business.  And SPOILER ALERT, but I have no idea what happened at the end.  They lost the strike, which was a bad thing, but yet the men were all going back to work, but they were apparently going to be part of a dying industry, and yet someone they could still afford to send Billy to school... what?! 
At three hours long the show could use some trimming.  There are a number of numbers that are there just because they're cute and serve no purpose to the story.  A character like the grandmother could have been cut entirely and it wouldn't have mattered a single bit.  Not that I didn't enjoy her, but she didn't contribute anything.  The majority of the dance numbers, like the one where Billy first discovers the ballet class, go on and on and on without moving the story along.  And with music from Elton John, leaving the theatre I couldn't recall a single piece to hum along to.  It was forgettable. 
There were some laughs, and some nice little moments, but honestly, when I pay the kind of money you have to pay to see a show like this, I want to be taken on a journey, and this show was all razzle dazzle and no substance, sadly.  Given how long a run it's had I'm sure that others disagree, but I can't recommend this show.  Sorry Billy Elliot, I wanted to like you, but you were just entertaining, and that's not enough.

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