If you don’t come away from Billy Elliot wanting to speak Irish and dance in the streets, then I would be completely amazed. After seeing it open night, it’s already one of my top five favorite musicals – and I’ve seen a lot of musicals!
The story of Billy Elliot takes place around the 1984 strike of the British National Union of Mineworkers. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was politically opposed to state-owned industry and was determined to crush the unions. The strike went on for a full year. However, in the end, the Conservative government broke the unions, and over the next decade the entire industry was demolished. In 1984, there was over 300,000 men working in the mining industry, and today there are less than 1,000.
During this time of turmoil, there is a little boy named Billy Elliot who has some rather big dreams. Despite the world that is crumbling around him, Billy represents hope to a village that is surviving solely on handouts from the working people. Billy has an undeniable talent – he can dance. He can dance so well, that it’s not out of the question for him to attend the Royal Ballet School. It’s just going to take money and support to get there…
It’s a truly heartwarming story told through catchy tunes and spectacular dance sequences that leave the audience with their jaws on the floor. The role of Billy usually rotates between 3 boys. For opening night, J.P. Viernes filled the shoes of the lead. I was absolutely blown away by the talent that Viernes brought to the stage. For someone so young to be able to dance with such control, I can’t even imagine the opportunities that await him in his future.
Do beware if you’re planning on bringing kids to this one that there is some language. Nothing more than typical Brit language though. They can be foul-mouthed from time to time – but it’s all befitting with the tone of the show. I also should note that there is a giant blow-up Margaret Thatcher that appears in the play, and it has made my list of creepy/horrifying things that will give me nightmares. It was a great scene though, but that thing was terrifying.
Billy Elliot is playing at the Fox Theater here in Atlanta from now through March 18th. Pick up tickets at the FOX Theatre Box Office or online at www.ticketmaster.com!