Since the release of the Billy Elliot film back in 2000 (featuring Jamie Bell as Billy), it’s continued to be one of my favourite stories of all time. So when the opportunity popped up to see a live screening of the stage adaptation from the Victoria Palace Theatre, I was the first in line to attend.
Billy Elliot is set in a northern mining town, during the 1984/85 miners strike. It follows the inspirational story of a young boy called Billy Elliot and his struggle to follow his dreams. During boxing practice, Billy discovers ballet where he finds his passion for dance which inspires his family, his community and changes his life forever.
Not only does the storyline pack a powerful punch, but this outstanding stage show features an unforgettable soundtrack by Sir Elton John.
The live screening I attended was at the Lighthouse in Poole but the same performance was also being screened all around the world. Before the show there was a treat in the form of a talk from Sir Elton John and a behind the scenes tour with cheeky Elliot Hanna who played Billy in the evening’s performance.
Elliot Hanna played a brilliant Billy, with the perfect balance of emotion, cheekiness and passion. It was clear from his performance that he had found a way to relate with Billy. His dancing was flawless, his singing was filled with passion and made us (the audience) believe every word. Take a bow Elliot!
I also really enjoyed the performance from his best friend Michael, played by Zach Atkinson who did an outstanding job of making Michael really funny, kind and loving. I even preferred him to Michael in the film too!
Mr Braithwaite, played by David Muscat also really surprised me with his performance. His acting was brilliant but one he started dancing, he was magical to watch. He was so light on his feet that it blew me away!
Throughout the show the stage was really impressive with Billy’s room rising from the ground and disappearing back into it. I felt that the space was really utilised and with some great sets. At the beginning Elliot Hanna explained how tough it was to get in and out of the toilet cubicle sets as he had to climb in from the back.
The lighting really helped to emphasise emotion especially during the mining strike songs and Billy’s solo of ‘Electricity’, which was one of my highlights of the show.
My favourite part of the whole show was Billy’s dance with his older self, played by Barnaby Meredith. They used zip lines to make young Billy fly and it was enchanting and magical to watch both generations of Billy shadow each other.
I’d really recommend the show to anyone over 12 years old, as it does have a fair bit of swearing in it! Billy Elliot is something special that shouldn’t be missed, and it will give you a theatrical experience that will stay with you well after leaving the show.
Words by Michelle Stannard