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Friday, 10 March 2017

Billy Elliot The Musical, Birmingham Hippodrome

Lewis Smallman as Billy Elliot, UK Tour.
Billy Elliot has been on my list of shows to watch in 2017 from the moment I heard the news that it was arriving at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sat 29 April as part of it's UK Tour. The stage adaption of the 2000 film is currently undertaking a National UK Tour after the curtain went down on the 11 year production in the west end back in 2016. A much missed addition to the west end programme, Billy Elliot is a production which combines political reference as well as the clear message that it's important to follow your dreams.
Billy Elliot is set to a backdrop of 1984's Northern coal miner strike. We follow a young boy from County Durham who finds himself falling into the arms of dance at his local boxing club. Little does he know that dance sparks an electricity within him that sees Billy pursuing the dream to dance the very highest point.

This production is definitely bold, impulsive and full of swearing, the northern accents were so well done by the entire cast. There is fantastic, technically gorgeous choreography from Peter Darling who really combines political reference to the script perfectly and with help from the music composed by Elton John it's a performance that tugs on the heart strings, makes you laugh and also captures an important part of UK's industry. The lives of the men as well as the families of those working in the coal mining industry were tough financially and emotionally, especially around the 1980's with the rise of Margaret Thatcher in power and Billy Elliot demonstrates this so well. 

This performance of Billy Elliot saw West Bromwich lad Lewis Smallman undertake the title role of Billy. He was superb, technically brilliant at what he did and thrived to a home crowd. His dance ability had the audiences on the edge of their seats, resulting in numerous roars of applause and even a few standing ovations. He was clearly pleased with how he was accepted by the home crowd, he's incredibly talented and in the song Electricity he really showcased his triple threat performing to his best ability. I'm so excited for this young man's professional career. 


The stand out performer for me was from Elliot Stiff who shone as Billy's best friend Michael who was a sheer delight to watch, especially when paired so well with Lewis Smallman. Their triumph anthem to being who you are in Expressing Yourself really struck a chord. It's witty but yet incredibly powerful lyrics were completed with the use of colour and sparkle.

The entire young cast were flawless, they were really professional and mature performers who really commanded the stage well in front of such a huge audience.

The production had a great supporting cast, from Billy's dad (Martin Walsh), Tony (Scott Graham) and foul mouthed Grandma (Andrea Miller), who delivered perfect scene-stealing moments. There was a nod to the importance of family and them accepting your dreams and aspirations in the end was very heart warming. Dance teacher, Mrs Wilkinson (Annette McLaughlin) managed to take on the role that Julie Walters was so iconic for in the 2000 film, Annette's take on the role was very refreshing and enjoyable to watch.

The musical is very thought provoking, visually pleasing and showcased some of the best directing of film to stage production I had ever seen.

thanks for reading,
*I was gifted this ticket in exchange for a review, but all words and opinions are my own.


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