BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through Jan. 29. You can read the show description here.
If you are on the fence about whether or not to see BILLY ELLIOT during its two-week visit to Cincinnati, I’d recommend you take the plunge. If not, you may be missing one of the best productions of the season.
This was my first time seeing BILLY ELLIOT, and it was a bit overwhelming trying to take it all in. It is one of those productions where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and most of its parts are very good.
Based on the 2000 movie, from what I remember the book for the musical hits most of the major plot points. There are many themes running throughout the show: following your dreams; the importance of friendship, family and community; the heart of the working class, the importance of teachers and the arts; and a parents wish for a better life for their children to name a few. These themes did not feel forced or bog down the show.
I really enjoyed the unique staging in this production. Visually my favorite numbers include “We’d Go Dancing, ” Billy’s “Angry Dance” and “Once We Were Kings.” For choreography, my favorites were “Solidarity” and Billy’s “dream ballet.” Both the director and the choreographer enjoyed playing with the idea of hard vs. soft throughout the production.
A couple of the scene changes did came off a bit “clunky,” but I attribute that to it being a demanding show to tour, on top of it being their first night in a new venue.
BILLY ELLIOT features a strong ensemble and great character work.
Opening night, Billy was played by Kylend Hetherington. This is a hugely demanding role for any performer and young Kylend carried it well. The audience response to his solo performance of “Electricity” briefly halted the show.
I also enjoyed the emotionally strong performances of both Leah Hocking as dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson and Kat Hennessey as Billy’s Mum.
Ben Cook does an outstanding job as Billy’s friend Michael. Both boys showcased their tapping skills (with a bit of help from the ensemble) in “Expressing Yourself.” Also a treat to watch was the comic antics of Morgan Martin as ballet girl Susan Parks (pictured at right in purple.)
My biggest complaint is that it was hard to understand some of the dialogue due to the heavy accents. In musical numbers, where groups of performers were singing different lyrics, it was difficult to make out what was being sung.
The final number/curtain call, “Company Celebration,” is a very fun farewell from the entire cast.
For me, BILLY ELLIOT was a very enjoyable evening and definitely a show I would want to see again.
BTW here is the content advisory from the Broadway in Cincinnati website: A few mildly violent riot scenes and a 2+ hour running time may make the show unsuitable for your own youngsters, but the show’s message, content and story and content are a definite don’t-miss for ‘tweens and above.
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