Billy Elliot Electrifies the Stage on Opening Night


Billy Elliot is based on Academy Award nominated 2000 film of the same title, set in during one of the darkest times in British history - the 1984 miner’s strike. It is about a young boy from a small mining town, with no talent in boxing, but instead finds himself extraordinary gifted in ballet dancing. Dance is not something the working-class men of a mining town does so Billy's chain-smoking dance teacher helps him nurture his talent in secret. Meanwhile, the strike is getting on the community's nerves and the tension threatens to tear Billy's family apart when they find out about his secret. Billy will have to prove his passion for dancing and inspire his family and the whole community to help him achieve the ultimate goal - entrance to the prestigious Royal Ballet School.

The musical started off a little slow but quickly warmed up; drawing a parallel, Billy's dancing was unsure and hesitant at first but found his solid footing by the time his audition scene came up. Billy's song and dance solo "Electricity" was just that - electrifying and was a delight and joy to watch the young actor's movements across the stage.

Janet Dickinson and Drew Minard after the show

The cast was full of talented actors but it was definitely Drew Minard, one of four actors who play Billy, who stole the show. Amazing, considering the actor is only what 12 or 13? Other notable characters were Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy's dance teacher, played by Janet Dickinson and Michael, Billy's queer friend, played by Jake Kitchin. Both had their own musical numbers - "Shine" and "Expressing Yourself" respectively, which were fun and colourful tunes that got the musical going due to the strong performances of the actors.

The dialogue was slightly hard to follow due to the accents, however it didn't detract from the experience. Parents with young children should be aware that there is some strong language and cursing in the musical but no more than in the movie.

It is a lot more funnier than the movie it is based on, considering the serious and depressing tone of the film but it works in live theatre. What we have here was a funny, heart-felt and engaging story set to lively and uplifting music. While all the musical numbers were a joy to listen to (music by none other than Elton John and lyrics by Lee Hall), the strongest ones I felt were the loud and angry ones - "Solidarity", "Angry Dance" and "Electricity". But even more so than the music, Billy's dancing scenes were my personal favourites, like Billy says  "there are not words to describe it, it's just a feeling" - a strong feeling indeed.

The musical is an amazing, energetic and feel-good show that I really enjoyed as did the rest of the audience - the night ended with a standing ovation. Go see it, it will not disappoint!

Billy Elliot playing daily at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver from now thru Sunday, April 7th, 2012. You can purchase your tickets at

Excuse me, but I feel like dancing now.

Disclosure: I received tickets to the show from Broadway Across Canada to review. No other compensation was received. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own and have not been influenced in any other way.

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