Monday, 2 July 2012

BILLY ELLIOT (Victoria Palace Theatre) Review June 2012

I had the pleasure of meeting Brad Kavanagh, an original Michael from this production about five years ago at an awards ceremony we were both nominated for. After hearing about his time with the show I knew it was one I wanted to see. I regret that it took me until earlier this year to actually see it. This was my second visit to Billy Elliot, the British musical that has captured the hearts of audiences world-wide and continues to do so after seven years in London. With five current Billys, four Michaels and four Debbies in the cast, at this performance the role of Billy was played by the latest addition Harrison Dowzell, Michael by Joe Massey and Debbie by Francesca Mango.

(Harrison Dowzell as Billy Elliot)

There were strong performances from all three of the young leads as well as from the chorus of ballet girls. Billy and Michael's tap routine in 'Expressing Yourself' is defintely an audience pleaser.  The elder three leads Gillian Bevan as Mrs Wilkinson, Deka Walmsley as Billy's father and Ann Emery as Grandma provide undoubtably believable performances. Moments of comedy from Grandma leave the audience shocked and giggling.  There isn't one member of cast who doesn't give 100 percent. The standout performance has to be from RADA trained Michael Peavoy as Billy's elder brother Tony, who captures the anger of the miners and plays a raw and polished performance. 

The set by Ian MacNeil is both practical and complex, whilst still managing to be beautiful in design. Lee Hall's lyrics and Elton John's music combined will make you laugh and perhaps induce the odd tear or flood load. 

One of the most visually impressive parts of this show is the dream-like routine between Billy and his older self (Barnaby Meredith). The timing and execution of the routine is nothing less than perfect and when Billy soars into the air it's breathtaking.  It was the Guardian's review in 2005 that stated "Aerial movement has become the musical's biggest cliche; we must declare the West End a no-fly zone." I wholeheartedly disagree, the flying is a beautiful representation of Billy's dream-like state and to declare anything as beautiful as this away from the West End stage would be a travesty. 

Booking until 21st December 2013 Billy Elliot is a must for theatregoers. 
Monday - Saturday 7:30pm, Thursday & Saturday 2:30pm. 
Tickets: £65, £49.50, £37.50, £27.50, £19.50 (Dayseats available on morning of performance, £19.50, front row stalls, very close to the stage.)


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