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Reviews of Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot is the best show ever!! It is so powerful! It's full of laughter and tears, a very touching musical. The whole cast are fantastic and the children are really fab! I recommend it to everyone. Everybody should go and see it! (Written by "dancing chick", 14th May 2006)

When Billy Elliot the Musical opened, Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph famously described it as ‘the best British musical I have ever seen’- an assessment with which I heartily concur. But why is it so good? The story, based on the 2000 film about an 11 year old orphaned boy struggling to become a ballet dancer during the 1984 miners’ strike in County Durham, is in some ways a strange subject. How can your central character be regarded as a rebel for wanting to dance when he’s in a musical? What makes it work? It’s not that the score, composed by Elton John, sparkles with memorable tunes- in fact there’s a general absence of strong melodies to hum on your way out. But there are serviceable chorus numbers and a pleasing variety of musical styles from power ballad to folk song. There is a strong left wing, or perhaps more accurately anti-Thatcher sensibility that will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. But Lee Hall’s book and lyrics work very well indeed. The script, studded with a very large number of expletives (uttered by everyone from small children to elderly grandmas as a sort of patois) perfectly conveys the story and is incredibly well structured- perhaps surprisingly so considering how much rewriting and editing went on in previews. The characters are all well drawn and there is a perfect balance of comedy and genuine pathos. The struggles of the central character and the community from which he comes (including his family, his dance teacher and his cross-dressing best friend) are also brilliantly conveyed, a happy ending for one occurring as the others appear to heart-breakingly fail. The strong story telling also extends to the choreography of Peter Darling (one of the many survivors from the team responsible for the film version). In one memorable sequence he manages to create dance for the background characters of riot police and striking miners that overlaps with a ballet class and manages to tell us about the mounting confrontation and Billy’s developing skills compared to the ballet girls all at the same time. Throughout the piece there are various styles (regimented moves for the police, country dance-style steps for the miners and awkward looking ballet for the girls) which resolve into a tap dancing finale for everyone that ends the show on a fantastic high. And the routines provided for Billy himself are a mixture of tap, ballet and street styles that demand extraordinary abilities- towards the end of the rehearsal period it was apparently feared that no young performer would be able to pull off the role. In fact the show rests not exclusively but largely on the slender shoulders of one young man for the whole two and a half hours. In the year that Billy Elliot has been running there have been seven boys ranging in age from 13 to 16 in the title role (with a further two in final training) and each has been phenomenal. Without exception they all have tremendous energy with dancing and acting skills in spades. It seems incredible that the casting and training process, interminable as it is, could have produced such a succession of huge talents. But what’s really unbelievable is that each of them has also had that indefinable ‘it’ quality. They all naturally project a personality that drives the show- and all of them are different. Indeed the musical keys to the songs, the dance steps and therefore lighting and sound cues are adjusted for their particular strengths. However the thing that really makes this production such a success is the way all the elements are synthesised into a brilliant whole. As well as those previously mentioned there are factors such as the set design, the sound design, the musical arrangements, great performances by the whole company- all seem to fit together seamlessly. Add to this the indefinable sense of being part of something special that extends throughout the creative team, the cast and crew and even the audience (many of whom are regulars) and you have one very exceptional show. See it. (Written by "srd17", 7th June 2006)

Billy Elliot. Two words, and a show full of laughter, tears, happiness and all other emotions you can think of, and the whole audience is held by one boy aged between 12 and 15. It is awesome and I would definately recommend it. The standard of performance from all the kids is amazing. Lets not forget the ballet girls, small boys and tall boys here. They are as much a part of the show as the Billies, Michaels and Debbies. The show is great and I would recommend it to anyone, for the high standard from the cast, adults and children, all the songs and dance numbers, the plot and for the sheer experience of seeing it! Thank you to all the cast, especially those who performed on May 15th 2006 when I went to see it. (Written by "fifilapoodle", 4th December 2006)

Just a wonderful performance. (Written by "Simbea (Guest)", 30th November 2009)

I saw Billy Elliot in 2009, it was amazing. The tap dancing is amazing! (Written by "Emily (Guest)", 27th February 2011)

This show is amazing i would love to meet the cast and i would love too see this again. (Written by "Megan Hughes (Guest)", 2nd August 2011)