February, the month of open displays of love and broken New Years' resolutions. It can be a funny month. If only the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton could give us a play to lift our spirits. If only a West End phenomenon would go on tour and stop in Southampton. Oh wait...
Yes! Billy Elliot The Musical is showing at Mayflower Theatre until 4th March 2017. Just what the doctor ordered.
I was honoured to watch this with a bunch of the Southampton Bloggers (@SotonBloggers). Here are my thoughts...
BILLY ELLIOT PLOT
Billy Elliot is a young boy in a small town with a big dream. After accidentally finding himself in the centre of a ballet class he realises his passion for dance. Set in the north east of England during the 1984/85 miner strikes, his community are fighting to protect their future. Billy, however, is fighting his own inspiring battle to protect his individuality. He must break through social barriers to reach his potential.
STAGING AND COSTUME
The design team pull off the challenge of mixing West End razzle-dazzle with the image of a simple struggling town during a mining strike. The interchanging scenery was perfectly designed to allow the dancing to take centre stage.
Having said this, the designers clearly have a lot of fun with a Margaret Thatcher themed number. The breakout into an anti-maggie routine is hilarious and a lot of that is down to the props and set used. I also loved the costume changes at the end...but I will leave that as a surprise for you.
The full cast are incredible in this show and all need an exceptional level of dance (which they have!).
Emile Gooding 'Billy Elliot'
This part is played by different boys depending which performance you attend. I watched Emile who has also played Eric in Matilda the Musical (Cambridge Theatre, London, 2014-15) and an English National Ballet production of Swan Lake (Royal Albert Hall, 2016).
I am amazed by the talent in such a young boy. He tackles emotional scenes with a maturity which draws you in. Regardless of his age, he is incredible at ballet, tap and every other which way he danced his heart out.
There is a scene with 'Older Billy' played by Luke Cinque-White which gave me goosebumps. Dancing to Swan Lake by Tchaïkovski they captivate the audience.
Daniel Page 'Mr Braithwaite' Aka my favourite! I can't deny it. He's such a funny guy. Would happily watch the stage for 3 hours with just him on it.
The character Michael is a cross dressing boy who thinks that ballet is 'weird'. What is not to love!? I think Bradley Mayfield was on stage when I watched but I could be wrong. Other boys that play this part on the tour are Henry Farmer, Elliot Stiff and Samuel Torpey.
Andrea Miller ‘Grandma'
Just one look at this costume and body language before the show, I knew I would enjoy this character. She'll pull at your heart strings before making you laugh at her cheeky ways. Oh she is brilliant.
Annette McLaughlin as Mrs Wilkinson
Watch out, sassy lady shimmering by. Annette knows how to shake what her mother gave her. 'Mrs Wilkinson' attempts to teach 'Billy Elliot' from her smoke filled dance studio. She adds some 'Absolutely Fabulous' to the show.
Billy Elliot The Musical is an inspiring show with bucket loads of charm. This feel good story line is unashamedly common with a sophisticated beauty. It was an emotional roller coaster.
To be 100% honest; at the beginning of the show I wasn't gripped. I was entertained but not blown away. Then, just as I thought it wasn't the show for me, it gained momentum. The story pulled me in as the characters grew more depth. I am also impressed with the references to the miners strike. It highlights how the mining communities suffered. They definitely don't breeze over this. The strikes are a big part of the story.
With music by Elton John and choreography by Peter Darling, it is no wonder I left uplifted. This was clearly a mutual feeling across the audience as there was a standing ovation from the whole theatre.
Please note that there is a lot of strong language in this performance. 99% of it is to truly represent the characters. 1% of it seems to be because they just fucking wanted to :)
This is the third review I have done for Mayflower Theatre and I remain a big fan. From Robin Hood to The Wind In The Willows, it is a pleasure to visit this venue and enjoy the entertainment. Thank you to the organisers and staff who make this theatre wonderful.
Photo credit: Mayflower Theatre
Honest review: Mayflower Theatre gifted me with the opportunity to review this production. This has absolutely no influence on my opinions made in this post.
Have you seen the show before? Let me know what you thought in the comments.
If you enjoy my jibber-jabber, please please please subscribe to my newsletter...