Theatre Mirror Review>"Billy Elliot"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Billy Elliot"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The autumn show in the 60th Anniversary season at North Shore Music Theatre is the Ten time Tony Award winning musical "Billy Elliot" which also won Best Musical Award. It is a spectacular musical with the heart, humor and passion to be named Time magazine's "Best Musical of the Decade!" It is based on the international film hit and featuring a score by music legend Elton John. "Billy Elliot, the Musical" is the inspirational story of a young boy's struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Set in the northern English mining town, against the background of the 1984 miners' strike, audiences will follow Billy's journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and his community and changes his life forever. Director/choreographer Adam Pelty picks the best performers to fill all these roles with 32 cast members and creates a musical masterpiece that audiences can savor and enjoy thoroughly. A surprising tap dance that makes the audience rise to its feet is the closing reward that this phenomenal cast delivers to one and all. Bravo!!

Adam blocks the show beautifully and creates some stunning dance numbers that stop the show with their powerful execution by his fantastic cast. Musical director Andrew Bryan brings out the best in the vocals of the cast as well as in his 9 piece orchestra. The diction of each cast member is superb. Nicholas Dantes is unbelievable in the role of Billy Elliot. He is a triple threat performer at an early age of 14 and is definitely bound for stardom. Nicholas not only tugs at your heartstrings in this role but also delivers comic moments along the way. His dancing is electrifying and his strong singing voice is astounding, too. His numbers include "Electricity" which stops the show with power and punch when he tells the powers that be what dancing means to him as well as "Solidarity" when he continues to take ballet lessons without the knowledge of his family. The dancing students sing it with the cops and strikers making it a very stirring anthem in the show. One of the funiest numbers in the show is "Expressing Yourself" when Billy's friend, Michael excellently played by multitalented, Alec Shiman tells him to wear a dress and relax. It is a magnificent vaudeville type number that stops the show with their brilliant rendition as their tap dance up a storm during it. Their relationship is extremely well done by both boys! Another outstanding number is the angry dance "Swan Lake" between Billy and the older Billy. Nicholas flies through the air as he performs a Pas de Deux with Maximilen Baud as the older Billy. This is a breathtaking moment in the show where Billy's dreams are finally realized. His interactions with one and all are astounding. Bravo!

A huge scene stealer is Jake Ryan Flynn who is 8 years old and has the comic timing of a seasoned pro! He boots the projectionist to start the film reel, runs roughshod over some of the cast to do his bidding, has a funny bit swearing up a storm during a boxing class and then drops coins in a hat perfectly. Jake will be reprising his Tiny Tim role again for "Christmas Carol" in December. Keep your eye on this boy, he is also destined for stardom. Janet Dickinson shines as Miss Wilkerson who eventually recognizes Billy's talent as a dancer. She encourages him to follow his dream. Her first number "Shine'' is similar to Miss Hannigan in "Annie" as she chastises her dancing girls with a cigarette hanging from her mouth. Janet delivers a well nuanced performance of this hard as nails teacher who is really a marshmallow underneath it all. Another impressive number is "Born to Boogie" where Billy leans an impressive dance number to perform at his audition for the dance school. Brian Padgett who recently played the monster in "Young Frankenstein" at Theatre by the Sea, does a split in this dance number. He is a hoot in this show.

The stoic father played terrifically by Timothy Gulan finally displays his deep emotions as he sings "Deep into the Ground" when he conveys his devastation at the loss of his wife. He also sings "He Could be a Star" with Billy's brother, Tony when they argue about Billy's future. Timothy delivers a splendid performance as this hard as nails man who finally realizes he must let his son follow his dreams. CJ Eldred does a marvelous job as Tony, running the gamut of emotions from bitter to sympathetic to Billy's plight. He displays his voice in the "He Could Go and He Could Shine" number  and gives a strong portrayal as the angry young man. He redeems himself when he finally becomes happy that Billy will finally be able to fulfill his true love of the dance."Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher" which leaves the audience rolling in the aisles is performed by the company at the Christmas party in the second act. Mother's letter is a definite tear jerking moment in this show and is excellently executed by Elysia Jordan. She and Nicholas have the audience in the palm of their hand in this number in both the first and second act. Elysia's voice is magnificent. Sarah de Lima shines as the Grandmother and her song is a show stopping moment of hilarity. It is bawdy and brilliantly performed by her. The grandmother constantly gives everyone the middle finger which is a hoot. The singing and dancing chorus does a magnificent job in this show. Kudos to one and all from the costuming to the scenic design this is one spectacular musical. Bill Hanney continues to produce hit after hit at the North Shore Music Theatre for its 60th Anniversary season. This one is definitely a feather in his cap. The audience leapt to its feet at the curtain call on a job extremely well done by one and all. Run do not walk to this theatre for tickets before they completely sell out. It is definitely a show not be missed.

"Billy Elliot, The Musical" (29 September - 11 October)
@ 62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide