‘Billy El­liott’ is an im­pres­sive spec­ta­cle

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - By Cate Blouke Spe­cial to the Amer­i­canS­tates­man ED BY KYLE FRO­MAN “BILLY EL­LIOTT: THE MU­SI­CAL” When: Tick­ets: In­for­ma­tion and tick­ets: CON­TRIBUT-

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

$30-$75.

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.”

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