A few weeks ago my lovely and Northern-born Manfriend decided, spontaneously, to ‘educate me about The North’ by taking me to see Billy Elliot The Musical. Having casually remembered the story behind the film (boy does ballet) from nearly 13 years prior, I decided to go into the musical without doing any further research or forming any expectations.
Then I fell in love.
When Superbreak asked me to review the musical (and the new cast) on their behalf last week, I couldn’t say no. You see, what I didn’t realise when sliding into my seat in the weeks prior was that Billy Elliot’s West End musical has – over eight years – become one of the most celebrated, award-winning musicals on stage today.
The story, now seen by over 8 million people worldwide, is set against the backdrop of the 1984/85 miners’ strike and follows a young boy’s journey from boxing class failure to ‘ballet boy’. Though the story doesn’t feel particularly musical-friendly, the execution – from the lighting to the humour to the exceptionally talented dancers – is flawless.
From an ex-dancer’s viewpoint, Anna-Jane Casey completely stole the show for me as Mrs Wilkinson; Billy Elliot’s dance teacher. Playing a character that begs to be the soul of a show, Anna-Jane was able to do so with technical precision and a live warmth and believability that could not have been surpassed. This cast is the cream of the crop.
5 out of 5.