My friend saw Billy Elliot in London and loved it. You literally could not pick up a magazine this fall and not read about Billy Elliot. Granted, I am not a fan of musicals but I couldn't help myself but not buy tickets. Jessica and Fred gave the idea a big thumbs down. Josh and Emily were hesitant but decided to go for it.
We went last night. Although the play is still in the preview time period. I always get a chuckle out of that. The tickets were not cheaper last night vs when play gets reviewed and has opening night. Actually, the place was packed. I guess that the warning to the audience is that we are still working on it and we might change a few things. My advice, based on last night, would be to cut the play down and make a few changes.
I made sure the kids knew the history of the play before we went. The breaking up of the coal union in Britain, Margaret Thatcher, etc. It was helpful. The set is very clever. The kids are impressive. Billy, last night, was played by Trent Kowalik, who played Billy in London and it was his Broadway debut which was great.
The first half is almost one and a half hours. There are some great scenes. Shine which is the scene when Billy finds himself in ballet class with a group of girls. Then Solidarity which is a very catchy tune and the whole cast joins in from the strikers to the police to the townspeople. Michael, who is Billy's pal, was played by David Bologna last night. He honestly stole the show. He does a scene with Billy called Expressing Yourself which I thought was the best scene in the entire play. The other scenes could be shorter and not sure the audience needs to know everything like the mother who keeps coming back from the dead to talk and sing with Billy or the G'ma and her relationship with her dead husband. When a play is pushing 3 hours, I say, cut, cut, cut. Let the audience take a few leaps of thought.
Act 2 was way too long and not as exciting and engaging as Act 1. The first song, Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher is pop sounding and easy to find yourself singing along. After that, except for a funny moment at the Royal Ballet between Billy's father and a young man who has been at the Academy for a few years, I found myself wondering how much longer. Except for the fact, I enjoyed the story, although I could have been happy after Act 1 finished and called it a day.
Maybe what we saw is it, maybe it isn't but it would be worth editing the play. I'm glad we went. Billy and all the kids are so good between their singing and dancing one can only wonder where they will go in their careers since most haven't even hit puberty. Emily and Josh? They both enjoyed it but agreed that it was about 45 minutes too long. Musicals in the future? It is unanimous….few and far between.