Billy Elliot – The Musical

'

Billy is from a place where the men don’t dance, end of story, but, with a gritty determination, and an undeniable charm plus more talent than most of us have in our little fingers, he sets out to prove his doubters wrong by breaking the mould and going all the way.

Billy Elliot the Musical is a total phenomenon which has been seen by almost 11 million people across five continents and has won over 80 awards internationally, including an almighty 10 Tony Awards and a hugely impressive 5 Olivier Awards. Based on Lee Hall’s 2000 film, set in a northern mining town against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, the story revolves around Billy, who trades his boxing gloves for ballet shoes and soon discovers a passion for dance that ultimately changes not just his but the lives of his family and community forever.

So ingrained was life in the pits that son’s followed in their father’s footsteps, proud to do so and loyal to their communities. The impact of Maggie Thatcher and her Conservative Government on these communities is something that will never be forgotten and for most certainly not forgiven. Billy Elliot tells the story of a boy with a talent who wants out of the hardships of life in a mining town but needs the support and the backing of the proud men he adores yet watches become more and more broken by the oppressions of the state.

Billy Elliot does not shy away from the reality of the hardship and ill-treatment of the working classes during the miners’ strike of ‘84/85 and this only makes it more powerful and spellbinding. The contrast of the softness and innocence of the children in tutu’s dancing amongst the striking miners and heavy handed baton-wielding Police is powerful and emotive, reminding me of days in the 80’s when my sisters and I would help my Father seal envelops to send for job after job after first striking then being made redundant, unsuccessful time after time, yet never giving up.

Billy Elliot Tour

Billy Elliot is a story of hope, with emotional highs and heart-breaking lows, it is utterly absorbing. it will make you laugh out loud as well as pause an take The talent on stage is simply mind-blowing. With four Billy’s cast on the tour, tonight is the turn of Lewis Smallman to show us he truly was born to boogie. I don’t think any words could do justice to just how incredibly talented this young actor is, the challenges of the role are immense, not only do the boys need to have excellent contemporary dance, tap and ballet skills, but they’ve got to be able to sing and act and all with a Geordie accent! Lewis is totally mesmerising, his sheer talent and commitment to the role brought me to tears as I watched him move, he made for the perfect Billy.

As well as Lewis all the children in the cast are magnificent, with special mention going to Samuel Torpey Billy’s cross-dressing best friend Michael, whose duet with Lewis Smallman on Expressing Yourself is just perfection, funny, fabulous and full of razzle-dazzle, no doubt we will be seeing much more of this incredible talent, a true star in the making, he has the x-factor in bucket loads! Evie Martin takes on the role of Debbie with all the cheeky wit you’d hope for, she is fantastic, sassy and witty with just the right amount of attitude. The adult cast are exceptional too, lump in the throat moments between Billy and his dead Mum are at juxtapose with the scenes of violence and intimidation on the picket line. Annette McLaughlin as Mrs Wilkinson is outstanding, firm and feisty she truly believes in Billy, the scenes between the two are incredibly powerful as she offers a little of the Mother’s touch missing from Billy’s life. Martin Walsh as Billy’s Dad and Scott Garnham as Tony, Billy’s brother are real and believable, hardened by life and the rough hand they have been dealt yet when it comes down to it their love for both Billy and each other shines through.

Billy Elliot Tour

Everything about this production for me was perfection, from Elton John’s sublime score, to the incredible lighting design from Rick Fisher, and as for Peter Darling’s choreography, wow! Totally awe-inspiring, complex and compelling, expressive and moving, I barely blinked for fear of missing anything it just is that good.

Billy Elliot is an absolute triumph of a show, heart-warming, inspiring and utterly mesmerising, it’s very rare you see a whole audience leap up in appreciation but I absolutely guarantee by the time the curtain falls you will be on your feet roaring for more!

On at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 28th January tickets available here;

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/billy-elliot/palace-theatre-manchester/

Mind the Gap – Mia

mia-main

Formed in 1988, Mind the Gap is England’s largest learning disability theatre company that creates work for both UK and international audiences. As part of their Daughters of Fortune series, Mia, aims to explore the subject of people with Learning Disabilities becoming parents, expose the myths and expand on the truths.

Mia has just found out she is pregnant, how will she cope? Can she afford it? Will she make a good mum? What if she screws it all up? Questions all new parents would ask themselves, the only difference being non learning disabled parents have the right to make their own choices about their child and are at the heart of all decisions made. Having a Learning Disability means Mia will have to face many assessments, endless meetings and potentially fight for the right to keep her own child, as currently around 40% of parents with a Learning Disability have their child removed, although advocacy groups estimate this figure to be closer to 90%.

Such a monumental subject matter could have the potential to be heavy and difficult to discuss, however Mind the Gap excel at making this sensitive subject accessible and manage perfectly to approach things from a no nonsense and honest point of view. They bring their own unique brand of humour which cleverly pokes fun at the ridiculous and absurd way in which people with Learning Disabilities are at times treated. Director/Devisor Joyce Nga Yu Lee has worked with her performers to deliver a thought-provoking and powerful piece. The four actors Alan Clay, Anna Gray, JoAnne Haines and Alison Short each offer something uniquely special to the production. Each excelling in several roles and delivering with confidence a compelling and engaging piece of theatre. The mock quiz show section Don’t Drop The Baby was a particular highlight, funny and engaging whilst still delivering an important and strong message. With a great amount of well-timed humour, Mia will make you laugh just as much as you’ll feel tears welling as the cast open up about how it feels to be a person with a Learning Disability who may ultimately not have the final say in such a life changing and monumental decision.

Mia is a wonderful piece of theatre, bold, absorbing and engaging, an absolute must see and a credit to all involved.

Home