For Billy Elliot: The Musical, the night of June 7th could be magical.
That’s the night Broadway celebrates its best and brightest by handing out the Tony Awards. In advance of the nominations, revealed May 5th, industry insiders already have Billy Elliot as the frontrunner for the Great White Way’s best musical of 2008.
Billy Elliot the Musical is a musical based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot which was a huge hit. The music is by Sir Elton John, and book and lyrics are by Lee Hall. Hall’s screenplay was inspired in part by A. J. Cronin’s novel, The Stars Look Down.
The musical debuted in London’s West End in 2005 and won four British Tony Awards (only they call them Laurence Olivier Awards) including best musical.
Billy Elliot is based on a movie of the same name that was released in 2000. The theatrical adaptation is written by Lee Hall (also the film’s screenwriter) and the music is composed by Sir Elton John.
The story is set in the 1980’s during a coal miners’ strike in Northern England. Billy’s conservative father, and striking coal miner, takes him to the gym to learn how to box. Only Billy doesn’t like boxing and instead becomes captivated by a nearby dance class. After just a few moments Billy is hooked and all he wants to do is dance.
The rest of story revolves around Billy’s passion for dance clashing with his father’s conservative views-mainly his opinion that all male dancers are not manly enough. Does this conflict get settled before the final curtain falls? Of course it does but to learn exactly how you’ll have to buy Billy Elliot tickets and see for yourself.
Billy Elliot: The Musical officially opened on Broadway on November 13th, 2008 and was brought to the stage by the same creative team behind the original London production.
The title role rotated between three actors, David Álvarez, Kiril Kulish and Trent Kowalik. Later, a fourth Billy was added to the rotation, this one played by actor Tommy Batchelor. It’s rumored that all three of the show’s original Billy’s will be considered for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical.
The show has received a remarkable amount of rave reviews from both critics and fans. Since its debut, it’s consistently been one of Broadway’s weekly top earners.
Critics surmise that Billy Elliot reflects the mood of the day. The audience, in the midst of an economic downturn, relates to the plight of striking miners, who themselves were struggling to make ends meet. Billy and his dancing represent the optimism that many of us are looking for in these trying times.
However, the Wall Street Journal reminded everyone that the musical is a one-sided portrayal of the miners’ strike and that it harshly, often rudely, criticizes former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. They called the musical “vulgar and bogus.”
Perhaps the musical is one-sided. But who looks for an objective world view in a medium that has characters expressing themselves in song?

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