Review of ‘Billy Elliot the Musical Live’ from London’s West End, presented by Fathom Events; Elton John, the Show’s Composer, Provided Special Welcome

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Review: November 18, 2014

“Billy Elliot the Musical” does a great job of capturing the energy, emotion and historical relevance of the original story and film.  The clever, insightful and touching lyrics of Lee Hall, who also wrote the book and film screenplay, are brilliantly brought to life within Elton John’s music, both having a freshness not seen in the sometimes formulaic musical format.  The musical won many awards and has been performed around the world to great acclaim. The ballet, modern and tap dancing and acting are outstanding throughout, and the Billy Elliot character in the live transmission, starring the appropriately named Elliott Hanna, conveyed the role with a maturity which will serve him well in his future career.  There are moments of pure tear-rending pathos, especially in his “conversations” with his dead mother, moments of explosive energy and anger, tentative searching, self-doubt and salty regional language balanced against self-awareness and eloquence.  There is true humor in unexpected places, and some hysterical action between Billy and a cross-dressing boy, Michael, who nearly steals the scenes with his flamboyance.  Set against this soul-searching by the children is the gut-wrenching realities of their families played out in a depressed northern English County Durham mining town.  The women in Billy’s life–Mrs. Wilkinson who sees his promise and teaches and grooms him for a better future, and his crazed but comical and loving grandmother–provide the moral support.  Billy’s older brother and father are striking miners fighting a losing battle against economic misery, family financial hardships, and emotional devastation.  They create compelling historical snapshots from the Thatcher years.  They don’t approve of Billy’s frivolous and “unmanly” attraction to ballet and would be happier to see him boxing. A Christmas party play where puppets and dressed-up miners act out their grievances towards Thatcher and her government relieves the tension, but their message is deadly serious in more ways than one.  The overarching themes of solidarity and insularity lead the miners to take up a collection to send Billy to London to audition for the Royal Ballet School, which almost doesn’t succeed since the donation that will make it possible comes from a “scab” or strike-breaker.  Ultimately the most important thing, to give the child a chance to make everyone proud, wins the day.  Against all financial odds, and cultural and class differences, Billy wins a dance scholarship and leaves to start a new life, leaving the old, crumbling society behind him.  A special treat in this live transmission was the opportunity to see a special finale in which current and former “Billy” stars from around the world dance together on stage.  Throughout the musical, the high energy and skill required in the choreography was successfully met by both young and adult performers, and there were interesting mixes of different movement genres. The colorful and frank language was true to the regional dialect, and the musical really brings the audience to a specific time and place.

 

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Comment from a patron when asked about what they thought about the performance:

“What a terrific experience; BILLY ELLIOTT is just amazing and all roles were wonderfully played, sung and danced.  A special performance of 27 former “Billy Elliotts” as the finale made it even more special.  Elton John managed to bring a sad time during Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister of Britain to life, to find humor and heroism and to provide a joyous conclusion. The event was well attended with a large audience of all ages APPLAUDING the film throughout the performance.”

– Kay Patel

 

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‘Billy Elliot the Musical Live’

Fathom Events Brings Global Smash from London’s West End to U.S. Cinemas for Three Showings

Elton John, the Show’s Composer, to Provide Special Welcome

Screenings in Select U.S. Cinemas on November 12, 15 and 18 Only

DENVER – October 16, 2014 – Fathom Events brings top theater from London’s iconic West End to the big screen with “Billy Elliot the Musical Live” which will be screened in select U.S. cinemas for three showings only: November 12 at 7 p.m., November 15 at 12:55 p.m. and November 18 at 7 p.m., all local times. This unique performance was previously captured live when it was broadcast to eight countries from the show’s West End home at the Victoria Palace Theatre, hitting number one at the UK box office. It has been dazzling audiences in London since it opened in 2005, and has gone on to captivate audiences across five continents, winning more than 80 theater awards globally including 10 Tony Awards®.

“Billy Elliot the Musical Live” features Liam Mower, who makes his return to the show in the role of Older Billy for this special event, having been the first boy ever to play the role of Billy Elliot on stage in 2005. The event will also include a special welcome from Elton John, who composed the music for show, and a five-minute backstage tour led by Elliott Hanna, who will play the role of Billy Elliot. In addition, 25 current and former Billy Elliots will unite on stage in a specially choreographed mash-up finale. All three original Billy Elliots – James Lomas, George Maguire and Liam Mower – will take part in the performance.

Tickets for “Billy Elliot the Musical Live” are now available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com. The event will be presented in select movie theaters nationwide through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations and prices, visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

“Bringing this stage show to cinemas will give dance, music and theater fans from around the country the chance to experience this astounding show right in their home town,” said Fathom Events CEO John Rubey. “The gathering of the 25 talented young men who have played Billy makes this an extra special event and we are committed to bringing more of the best of stage productions to local cinemas.”

Set in a mining town in the north of England against the background of the 1984-85 miners’ strike, “Billy Elliot” is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Follow Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.

The cast is led by West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall in the role of Billy’s dance teacher, Mrs Wilkinson, Deka Walmsley who plays Billy’s dad Jackie, Ann Emery in the role of Grandma and Chris Grahamson in the role of Billy’s elder brother, Tony.  For this performance, Elliott Hanna (11) plays the role of Billy Elliot, Zach Atkinson (13) the role of Michael and Demi Lee (11) the role of Debbie.

“Billy Elliot the Musical Live” is presented in London by Universal Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions in association with Tiger Aspect and is based on the Universal Pictures/ Studio Canal film. This production is brought to life by the multiple award-winning creative teams 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, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch. The show is produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jon Finn and Sally Greene. Angela Morrison and David Furnish are executive producers.

About Fathom Events

Fathom Events is owned by a newly formed entity called AC JV, LLC. Fathom is the recognized leader in the alternative entertainment industry, offering a variety of one-of-a-kind entertainment events in movie theaters nationwide that include live, high-definition performances of the Metropolitan Opera, the performing arts, major sporting events, music concerts, comedy series, Broadway shows, original programming featuring entertainment’s biggest stars, socially relevant documentaries with audience Q&A and much more. Additionally, Fathom events take audiences behind-the-scenes and offer unique extras – creating the ultimate entertainment experience for fans of all ages. Co-owned by the three largest movie theater circuits in the United States, AMC Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: AMC), Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK) and Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC), Fathom’s live digital broadcast network (“DBN”) is the largest cinema broadcast network in North America, bringing live events to more than 750 locations in 171 Designated Market Areas® (including all of the top 50). For more information, visit www.fathomevents.com.

 

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