Billy Elliot The Musical has arrived back in Melbourne at the beautiful Regent Theatre to celebrate its 10th Anniversary Australian Tour. The musical has been seen by millions of people across five continents, and now it’s Melbourne’s turn to enjoy this endearing story once again.
Based on the popular Universal Pictures / Studio Canal film Billy Elliot (2000), the musical tells the story of a working-class boy whose journey takes him out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance.
Set in a small fictional mining town of Everington in County Durham, the musical is set against the backdrop of the 1984–85 miners’ strike. The devastating strike crippled the small town financially and emotionally. Billy pursues his love of dancing, defying the expectations and unwillingness of his friends and family. In the end, his actions inspire his family and the community, changing his life forever.
Set Designer, Ian MacNeil has done an amazing job bringing the mines to life with dark gloomy stage props, but it’s the kids and Mrs Wilkinson (Billy’s Teacher) who bring the show to life. With outbursts of colour and passionate choreography, the musical is uplifting to watch.
There’s a lot of heart in this musical with numerous standout scenes including Shine by Mrs Wilkinson, Billy and the Ballet girls, Expressing yourself by Michael and Billy, Born to Boogie by Mrs Wilkinson, Mr Braithwaite and Billy, and Angry Dance which is instrumental. This scene is very powerful and finishes the first act with Billy expressing his frustrations about missing his audition in Newcastle, through a high impact tap solo.
All performers did an amazing job portraying their characters on stage, a special mention to Lisa Sontag who plays Mrs Wilkinson, a local dance teacher who sees potential in Billy and pushes him to chase his dreams for a better future. Oscar Mulcahy who plays Billy’s best friend Michael brought flare to the stage, with his gorgeous dress-ups and comedic script. On opening night, Billy was played by River Mardesic who brought Billy to life with extraordinary singing and dancing.
The role of Billy is alternated in the Australian tour of Billy Elliot The Musical, played by Omar Abiad (12, from Brisbane), River Mardesic (11, from Melbourne), Wade Neilsen (13, from Newcastle) and Jamie Rogers (13, from Canberra).
Billy Elliot the Musical was brought to the stage by the multiple award-winning creative team behind the film including writer Lee Hall (book and lyrics), director Stephen Daldry and choreographer Peter Darling, joined by
Elton John who composed the show’s score. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations by Martin Koch.
I loved the original film and seeing it come to life as a stage musical has made me fall in love with it all over again. This heartwarming story encourages audiences to follow their dreams no matter what stands in their way.
A standing ovation on opening night was well deserved.
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