Sorry, friends, I have just realized that I failed to write up my experience last Friday night seeing the Broadway show, Billy Elliot. Here we are now.
I went into this one without a clue of what the story was about. Sometimes I like to do that. But, I think it is almost always better to have an idea of what it’s about. Maybe I just got lazy.
My synopsis: Billy Elliot is the young son of a north English miner. The backdrop for Billy’s story is the miners’ strike of the 1840′s, and this sets the emotional scene for Billy’s struggle. He lives in a working-class world of economic hardship and strife, and his home life is male-dominated; his mother is dead and his grandmother is a bit batty, but his brother and father provide macho male energy to go around. In this environment, Billy is taking boxing lessons, but at heart he is a dancer. He stumbles into a ballet class full of little girls (in his boxing helmet or what do you call it? and all) and takes off.
Predictably, his love for the ballet, when discovered, does not make his family proud. But, as the story goes, the town’s miners are crushed and learn to put their pride in this gifted son of the community, and Billy ends up with his father’s support.
It was a touching story, and quite humorous at times, and a touch political – I liked the Margaret Thatcher gags, although I confess I’m not up to speed on the contemporary politics. There’s something absolutely irresistible about a little boy singing and dancing his heart out; and the young actor did some extraordinary dancing. I loved it.
But, I have to say, this play had weaknesses. Unlike RENT, and West Side Story, this was less than perfect. There were definitely moments, for me, when the action lagged; I got impatient on several occasions for them to go ahead and get on with it. I get it, Billy’s brother is mad. He’s going to run offstage and do something. Do it already. The story was good, the music was good (ahem, by Elton John), and the dancing and emotion was great. But the pace could stand an adjustment, in my opinion.
Oh and also – I enjoyed the relationship between Billy and his friend, was it Mark? This little boy likes to dress up in his mother’s dresses, and while doing so, is the one to suggest ironically that Billy might be a little “poof” for enjoying the ballet. Mark (or whatever his name is) turns out to be the “poofy” one, in fact, but they have a touching friendship and when they dance around in little-kid-drag, there are some fun comedic moments.