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BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest

zamedy
Broadway Star
joined:6/27/07
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:11am
Just returned from seeing the touring production of Billy Elliot. I was not particularly excited about seeing this show for the first time.. and what I saw tonight definitely didn't change my mind.

First the good. The cast was strong and did an admirable job with the material before them. And... that was about it.

My apologies to the Billy fans out there but.. how the heck did this show win 9 Tony awards, including Best Musical. Best Musical.. REALLY? With THAT banal, incipid score? Who was it up against the year it won? I left the theatre without one song still stuck in my head, and I couldn't hum one now if I had a gun to my head.

I just found the whole production to be boring and entirely too long. Both my boyfriend and I (and the woman next to me) kept looking at our programs to see how many more songs were left. It was also hard to follow in part because the British/Scotish accents were SO THICK, perhaps TOO AUTHENTIC (Sorry if that makes me sound 'simple' and less wordly). Characters and entire scenes were completely unnecessary. And the set design didn't help things either. In fact it only added to some of the confusion at first (Same dull, boring set with same red entrance/exit door serves as Billy's house, the dance studio, a union hall?). And this tour is Equity, right? Why were cast members moving pretty much all the on-stage sets and props? Tacky. And the cross-dressing best friend who apparently has a crush on Billy? What??! Just all biazarre and, at this performance, not very funny.




Updated On: 9/30/12 at 01:11 AM
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adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:26am
To answer your question of what Billy Elliot was up against for the Tony that year - it won best musical over Next to Normal. It is really hard to take the Tony's seriously after that debacle.
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My Oh My
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/07
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:29am
Lucky for all of you, I don't know a thing about Billy Elliot, the musical, except that they had done some tinkering specifically for the American touring production. I *think* some of that tinkering included something with the accents. Apparently, Americans are easily spooked by foreigners and accented English. They're right. Well, the narrow minded sector, at least, and which country doesn't have one of those? Durr.

Sometimes the ear isn't used to hearing a certain combination of sounds and that jarring quality alone can translate to mumble jumble. When I was a kid, I assumed so many wrong words in place of what was actually sung on cast recording that featured British accents, thinking about how many times I screeched wrong lyrics into the open air is shameful!

I lied. I vaguely know exactly one song from Billy Elliot but can only recall how it made me feel since I don't remember its melody. And how it makes you feel is more important anyway, but I really liked it. Now if only I could remember the name of the song. :S
Recreation of original John Cameron orchestration to "On My Own" by yours truly. Click player below to hear.
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bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:37am
I absolutely loved Billy Elliot.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
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AwesomeDanny
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/09
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:40am
I'm sorry for your experience. I saw it on Broadway and really loved it. As for the hummability of the score, I don't see that as a very valid argument for not liking it. Sondheim has said a lot on the matter. Also, in the Broadway production, no actors moved scenery (at least that I can remember). The big thing about the set that everybody loved was how the tower of Billy's bedroom and the kitchen rose on an elevator from underneath the stage. Also, it was so chilling when the miners descended as the part of the stage they stood on lowered, and they sang a capella. However, neither of those would have ended up in the tour. The accents, for me, were a bit difficult for the first five to ten minutes, but afterward, my ears adjusted. If you put the work into listening, you hear a very moving story. And then, of course, there's the dancing, especially of the actor playing Billy. Did you not enjoy that? Even the people I know who don't like the show thought the dancing was great.
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HeyMrMusic
Broadway Legend
joined:5/16/04
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:51am
That's too bad... I saw the show on Broadway with three different Billys and loved it each time. Thought the Tonys it won were all warranted (thought Haydn Gwynne should have won Featured Actress and thought it had a more successful score than Next to Normal).
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keithp
Featured Actor
joined:4/20/05
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 02:55am
Everybody is entitled to their opinion but it is difficult to take the views seriously of someone who can't even spell Scottish let alone realise that the accents in Billy Elliot are North East England and certainly not Scottish. Even if you are not very good at understanding accents, I am sure the programme or a bit of research would tell you where the piece is set. It certainly makes it clear enough at the beginning of the show.

As for actors moving parts of the set - that happens regularly in the theatre (on Broadway,off-Broadway,regional there, Equity,non-Equity) often as part of the design or directorial choices. I haven't seen the tour but the actors moving the walls back is definitely a directorial choice. As for actors moving props - have you really never seen a show where actors move props?

And the cross-dressing friend who has the crush on Billy? - I am not sure if your objection is to the the cross-dressing or the crush. Certainly boys having crushes on other boys is pretty common and boys dressing up is their mothers clothing not exactly unheard of.
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Nickhutson
Broadway Star
joined:7/6/06
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 08:46am
I guess everything in the show is so much better than the score.. everyone knows Elton John put no effort into writing the score (which is why Martin Koch won the Tony award for arranging and orchestrating elton's crap score) but the production and dancing is amazing. It's certainly more entertaining than Next to normal. I guess some yanks are still bitter about Brits coming over and winning all the awards (a warning: it'll happen next year with Matilda).

And - yes - saying the accents were Scottish is a big mistake... proves you know little about the sociocultural history of the piece which probably explains the boredom you experienced.
Nick Hutson Co-Presenter/Producer MusicalTalk - The UK's Musical Theatre Podcast http://www.musicaltalk.co.uk
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steven22
Broadway Legend
joined:5/19/06
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 09:22am
I'm still bitter that BILLY won Best Musial over NEXT TO NORMAL. I saw BILLY and really didn't understand why everyone was so into it. NEXT TO NORMAL should've won by a long shot, my opinion.
zamedy
Broadway Star
joined:6/27/07
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 10:05am
I knew I'd get attacked for my opinion and that's cool. That's the beauty of this board. At the end of this all we're all in love with Broadway.. and shows from Billy Elliot to Brigadoon.

Two quick things.. I apologize for 'Scottish/Scotish.' I was writing this at 1am and actually asked myself "Is it one 't' or two?" I was too lazy to look it up. The irony of this all is that my great grandparents are from Scotland, my grandparents are/were VERY proud of their Scottish roots and I went to Scotland when I was 13. The accents I heard in this production reminded me very much of those accents... that's all I meant by that.

As far as the whole cross-dressing best friend thing, of course my objection wasn't about that. As I said a few sentences earlier, I went to the show w/my boyfriend. I just found this side storyline felt a bit odd.. perhaps because most of the jokes fell flat.

The dancing was, of course, amazing. The last song.. with the entire company.. was glorious. And the actress playing Mrs. Wilkinson was superb.
mikey2573
Broadway Star
joined:12/28/10
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 10:20am
First off, BILLY won 10 Tony Awards, not 9.
The score for BILLY ELLIOT is one that works as a part of the whole and does so with such integrity that the songs don't stand up when removed from that whole. I am a fan of the musical BILLY ELLIOT but I never listen to the cast album. When you take the songs out of the context of the story and the absolutely BRILLIANT staging, it just doesn't work. That can be interpreted as the score being "banal" or it can be interpreted as the score being so integrated into the plot and staging that it doesn't work when those elements are removed. However, that being said, there are still songs that I think are catchy and that I find difficult to get out of my head (SOLIDARITY comes immediately to mind). And SOLIDARITY is one of THE most amazingly staged musical numbers in years; a perfect melding of song, plot/character development and staging.
I agree that the set on the tour is not as clear as the set they used on Broadway. While the Broadway production kept the union hall walls on stage for most of the show, the kitchen set tower and table rising out of the floor made it clear that we were in Billy's home. The national tour has a smaller tower that rolls onto the stage when we are in Billy's home SOMETIMES. There are times when we are in Billy's home and the tower does not come in, only the kitchen table, and then it is definitely not clear where we are.
The accents in the show are scaled back from the London production, where that type of accent might not be any more difficult to decipher than a southern accent would be here in the states.
Unfortunately, they have made other changes to the show that weaken it, but not to the point of completely destroying it. Much of the profane language has been cleaned up for the tour. On Broadway, Billy's second line was "Fu#@ed if I know." Now it is changed to "I don't bloody know." When Mrs. Wilkinson is telling Billy to be calm for his audition, he used to say "For FU*% sakes, I KNOW!" Which prompted Mrs. W's response, "And another thing, remember to keep your mouth shut." That always got a laugh. They cut out the swear word in the tour, so Mrs. W's response is not only not funny, it doesn't even make sense. All the F bombs in SOLIDARITY are gone, making it a less "angry" song.
I never thought the dancing dresses in EXPRESSING YOURSELF worked; I always felt they conflicted with the gritty, realistic tone of the piece. But at least the dresses on Broadway were interesting to look at. The ones they are using on the tour are embarrassing. I also thin the tour is having a hard time keeping up with their Billy's growth spurts. When I saw the tour in Boston one of the Billys was as tall as Mrs Wilkinson, making him seem less vulnerable. A second Billy was injured and did not do a single show as Billy in Boston, but he went on as Tall Boy and he also very tall and had a very deep voice. Noah Parets was the only Billy I saw who seemed small enough to play the part. (I did not see Ben Cook so I don;t know how he reads) However, the cast is very talented and really sell the show. I have never seen it not get a HUGE response from the audience.
As for its winning the Tonys over NEXT TO NORMAL, that musical seemed more like a musicalization of a Lifetime movie, and I guessed its "surprise" plot twist five minutes in.
sparepart973
Featured Actor
joined:4/7/12
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 10:32am
I can't disagree with you. I was taken out by my coworkers to see it in London back in 09 and I was glad I didn't have to fork out the money on it. I thought it was pretty dull and boring most of the time. I just didn't really get into it. I thought it was pretty dire and cold. The score is pretty banal, sans "Electricity".
yankeefan7
Broadway Legend
joined:4/14/12
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 10:36am
Steven22 - you sound like my oldest daughter who loved "Next To Normal" and could not understand it either. Actually, I liked the music of "Next To Normal" a lot more than "Billy Elliot". I think the great dancing put "Billy Elliot" over the top in many people's minds.
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JohnyBroadway
Broadway Legend
joined:4/10/12
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 10:37am
Billy Elliot next to Mary Poppins, was one of the most magical experiences I've experienced for the theatre. Seeing a 12 yearold lead an entire production is absolutely priceless. Billy's final exit through the audience gets me everytime. And while I'm not the biggest Elton John fan, I loved his score for Billy. How could you not fall in love with " Electricity" or "Expressing yourself"? I saw the tour during it's first year when Faith prince was touring as Wilkinson, and Giuseppe Bausilio was on as Billy. Those aspects alone made it unforgettable.
Updated On: 9/30/12 at 10:37 AM
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Playbilly
Broadway Legend
joined:3/30/12
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:15am
I dragged my feet for quite a long time before seeing the show. When I finally saw it, I truly enjoyed it. Never saw the film. Thought the show had more intricate familial and social dynamics that several shows put together.
"Through The Sacrifice You Made, We Can't Believe The Price You Paid..For Love!"
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jayinchelsea
Broadway Star
joined:4/9/09
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:33am
One of the most overrrated shows of recent times; not one honest moment, not one memorable song or dance. The big second act duet looked silly, and frankly felt rather creepy.

Yeah, Tony award for Best Musical over the brilliant NEXT TO NORMAL? I don't think so.
metsfan
Chorus Member
joined:7/29/09
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:34am
Hey keithp: Maybe get off your high horse. The northern England/Geordie accent is very similar to a Scottish accent -- I wouldn't say this out loud in downtown Newcastle, but it's true. After all, look at a map: They're right next to each other.
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SNAFU
Broadway Legend
joined:4/20/04
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:46am
I am actually one who was glad Billy Elliot won over that screech fest Next 2 Normal. I might be in a very small minority but I thought N2N highly overrated. Oh I know it won a Pulitzer but then again so did Anna of the Tropics.
Those Blocked: SueStorm. N2N Nate. Good riddence to stupid! Rad-Z, shill begone!
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Rockyfan2000
Understudy
joined:5/15/11
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 12:03pm
A Geordie accent has nothing to do with a scottish one. And I should know, I'm from that part of the country! Sure they are "right next to each other", but having said that, the country's border is at least a 1.5 hour car drive from Newcastle and "Billy Elliot" is actually set in a town near Durham, which is another 40 minutes further south from Newcastle. So geography lesson over

I saw the show for the first time last year during a visit to New York and I loved it. Very moving and very well done!
"It's not where you start, it's where you finish!"
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keithp
Featured Actor
joined:4/20/05
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 12:05pm
Metsfan - I take it you haven't actually listened very closely to either accent?

I am not on a high horse but North East England accents are entirely different from Scottish accents. They may be relatively close in geography but Scotland is a separate country with an entirely different history.

You think Sean Connery sounds like a Geordie? I am glad you wouldn't claim so in downtown Newcastle - you would look extremely foolish
KC91WFU
Chorus Member
joined:9/29/12
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 12:16pm
I saw the show originally in London and then multiple times in New York. As time went on, they kept changing small things ostensibly to make it more "family friendly" but in reality weakening it and making some scenes awkward. There was also a VERY definite fall off in the quality of the performance of the child playing Michael. The kids after David Bologna and his immediate successors were mostly clowns with very little of the vulnerability inherent in that character. It really took away from the story. It was almost like no one was giving them notes. Also, the addition of Emily Skinner to the cast did not do the show any favors. That is really when it jumped the shark for me-a very, very poor choice even though I recognize her brilliance in other things. I am glad to hear the person on the tour is better. Even as much as I love this show, I think they could EASILY remove 30 minutes and still have a great show. As for Next to Normal...I thought that was brilliant also. I really couldn't compare the two. As far as Best Musical, I think either could have won. For actress though, I think Alice Ripley absolutely deserved it.
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xxdrewboy85xx
Broadway Star
joined:5/17/07
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:13pm
KC, those things you mention are the reason I don't want to revisit Billy Elliot! I first saw Billy Elliot on an impromptu trip to London to visit my best friend. I had no idea Billy Elliot was a musical and it was one of my favorite films so I was determined to see it. We went to the London version of TKTS and when asked for tickets to BE they laughed at me because the show was sold out for months ( It was in its first month of performances). As we were deciding on other shows to see the guy said that 2 house seats just became available for that night, which we purchased right away.

I was lucky enough to see the Original London Cast with Liam Mower as Billy and it was truly one of the most electrifying nights in the theatre I have ever had. I then saw the Chicago sit down and still found it to be one of the best musicals ( If not the best) of the decade.

I, for sure, thought Billy Elliot deserved the Tony over N2N.
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kadu335
Featured Actor
joined:5/3/09
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:44pm
I saw Billy Elliot twice on Broadway and loved it. The show touched me a lot. Regarding the score, I think it works perfectly with the show but not as a score to listen to out of context.
Even though I love N2N as well (especially the score), I think Billy Elliot was a better overall production.
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Outoftowner2
Stand-by
joined:1/8/12
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 02:50pm
I saw it reluctantly for the first time in London in 2007. I wasn't really interested but others recommended it.
I loved it.
I've since seen it more than a dozen times in London, New York and the tour. It moves me every time. It's not Sondheim but so what? It's all subjective and we all enjoy different things. I saw Next to Normal and appreciated it, but I'd see BE any time over that. Get past the accent and the score you don't want to like and look at what that kid does (the actor and the character). I love its grit and the sense of community that the Brits have that we don't always share in the US. The tour being made more family friendly is a shame but they've got to sell tickets. I hope it stays on stage in London for years and years. I'll go see it any time I go over, and I'll enjoy it every time I go over.
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Bettyboy72
Broadway Legend
joined:3/31/06
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 03:12pm
Zamedy, I also saw the tour in Buffalo after seeing the show twice in NYC during previews. Huge difference between the two.

I did like the tour a lot-I thought the actors were incredible. Not a bad note in the bunch. But the show seemed longer and the energy seemed much flatter. It's hard to describe. It felt like the audience just wasn't getting into it. Applause was polite until the curtain call for Billy.

The cross dressing reads different on tour somehow. Many of my friends felt it didn't work. I have to say, the large dresses in NYC created more of a fantasy. The guys in dresses with nylons over their faces on the tour looked like Leigh Bowery and they creeped me out. The role of Michael really has to have a boy that commits and doesn't just ham. The tour Michael had moments but he strained. On tour, the Expressing Yourself number didn't work. The sentimental mother stuff felt more forced too, whereas in NYC the audience was sobbing (me included.)

The pace really seemed to drag. The musical seems to have a few numbers that really pull the audience in and win them over-"Grandma's Song", "Angry Dance" and "Electricity". I think people go in and out between them. Even Billy flying seemed to lack an audience reaction.

But, at the end of any complaints-there are the Billys. I think the audience is in awe of these young men that can work at that level and deliver that kind of performance. It's pretty inspiring no matter who you are. I think that is what wins people over in the end.

I like the show as a whole but never listen to the score. N2N should have won best musical.

Also, with many musicals, I truly feel there is a zeitgeist moment when the show is new, the original cast is pumping nerves, excitement and adrenaline that can never be replicated. That energy is palpable.
"The sexual energy between the mother and son really concerns me!"-random woman behind me at Next to Normal "I want to meet him after and bang him!"-random woman who exposed her breasts at Rock of Ages, referring to James Carpinello
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JamesBroadwayWiner
Stand-by
joined:10/10/11
BILLIY ELLIOT = Snoozefest
Posted: 9/30/12 at 03:34pm
I absolutely loved the touring production.
"Breavity is the soul of wit"--Hamlet

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