‘Billy Elliott’ is an impressive spectacle
With the passing of this week’s right-to-work bill in Michigan, Broadway Across America’s production of “Billy Elliot,” showing through Sunday at Bass Concert Hall, gains an additional level of poignancy.
The story of a child’s individual triumph against a backdrop of collective defeat, “Billy Elliot” offers a cathartic mix of hope and anguish. Set amidst a British coal miners’ strike in 1984, it follows one little boy’s discovery of a love for ballet in an unlikely (and hostile) environment.
The musical, based on the 2000 film of the same title, integrates all the things that Broadway does best: song, dance, and spectacle – which explains why it won 10 Tony awards in 2009, including best musical and best choreography.
Austin may produce a number of great musicals each year, but we can’t compete with Broadway when it comes to dancers. Given that this story is primarily about dancing, we would expect great things from the show, and Broadway Across America doesn’t disappoint. With numbers that smoothly integrate burly coal miners and police officers with adolescent ballerinas, the juxtapositions are exciting and unexpected. Some of the more abstract numbers are the most beautiful, particularly Billy’s frustrated outburst against a backdrop of police in riot gear.
Despite a number of technical hiccups at Tuesday night’s performance, the spectacle of
8 p.m. today-15, 2 p.m. Dec. 15, 1 p.m. Dec. 16 Where: Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
477-6060, BroadwayAcrossAmerica. com/Austin the show is impressive. The massive set pieces hide seemingly endless surprises (such as the enormous puppet of Margret Thatcher) and are whisked on and off stage with dizzying speed.
Elton John’s music for the show is catchy and enjoyable, though not the highlight of the evening. And there are a few numbers that are delightful but rather extraneous (especially for an American audience) such as “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher,” which can make the show drag out somewhat.
But, again, the dancing more than compensates. Who can complain about a tap dance routine with jump ropes or a ballet duo that takes dancing with oneself to a whole new level? There’s even a point in the show where the miners don tutus, and although it might detract from the more somber conclusion of the story, it’s inarguably delightful to see.
Kylend Hetherington in “Billy Elliot the Musical.”