Billy Elliot The Musical

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Billy Elliot The Musical#0
Posted: 7/1/05 at 9:44pm
Billy Elliot The Musical

Liam Mower (who just turned 13 on May 13th, 2005) is excellent as 11 year old Billy, a young boy who find out he has a genius for dancing. So does Liam. He is only upstaged by Ryan Longbottom playing his cross-dressing friend Michael.

Liam is a fine ballet dancer, and is featuered in Elton John's music video "Electricity" as found here:

Billy Elliot The Musical

Broadband: http://astream.net/links/eltonjohn/electricity_350.ram
Modem: http://astream.net/links/eltonjohn/electricity_56.ram

Or, for those without RealPlayer: http://entertainment.msn.co.uk/music/musicvideos4/Default.asp#

Having seen the other Billies, it seems clear to me that Liam, on a good day, is a very good Billy. He has a clear boy soprano voice - and it might be him we will be hearing on a forthcoming cast recording. Not without faults, Liam is a ballet dancer that is a joy to the eye. His is a dancer genius, just like his character.

Now, to Mr. Longbottom as Michael. Some of his lines are already classics. Imagine, if you will, Michael dressed up to the nines in a dress and make-up, describing his feelings about Billy taking ballet lessons: "F*CKing weird, if you ask me!"

(Yes, there is a lot of cursing, and never, probably, has a young kid gotten away with calling an adult boxing coach "wanker" - a word used, as well, by the pianist at the ballet lesson when meeting Billy - "You look like a little wanker to me." Anyway, it's hilarious, and the morality police will probably throw up or have a fit. This, although it is a word really meaning something in the vincinity of "idiot".)

Back to Ryan Longbottom's Michael. He has a clearer approach to the part than does any of the other boys. When he is at his best he manages to steal the audience away from Liam and takes home the loudest audience reaction after a wonderfully performed tap number that will leave you realizing that we must accept people who cross-dress. Quote from "Expressing Yourself":

"What the hell is wrong with expressing yourself?
Being who you want to be?
Will anybody die if I put on a dress?
Who the hell cares if your blushers a mess?"

Let's put it this way - let us hope we will see much, much more of little Ryan in the years to come. His stage presence is complete.

Here's the ballet class
Billy Elliot The Musical

And, yes, there is some kissing going on. Ryan, playing gay Michael, gives Liam (Billy) a kiss. Later in the play, that kiss is returned. (I guess this will annoy the morality police as well.)

Do you want to see both Ryan and Liam? Don't worry! If you manage to catch Liam, you will see Ryan as they always pair up. How do you know who will play when? You don't! You will have to take chance, and about 30 minutes before the show start you can ask the staff who is playing who. Here, I feel a need to add that the street dancing George Maguire and James Lomas (The other Billies) are excellent as well, but not quite like Liam... Also, here's a soothing thought - if you feel like waiting outside the stage door after the show, both Liam and Ryan will give you an authoraph or shake your hand or just accept your greetings.

As for the story, it is both much darker and funnier than the film. The violence and the anger is much more obvious, as in the incredibly difficult and mad tap number performed by Billy when jumping up against the shields of a police squad where you sense both his inner conflict as well the political conflict of the outside world. Everything kind of grows from aworld created by our own stereotypes.

Billy Elliot The Musical

As for the music, it is very well performed. Many songs leave something to wish for, and it seems to me Sir Elton John only gave some thought to a very limited number of songs. But this doesn't matter. The lyrics of Lee Hall are so wonderful and down to earth that they alone can lift your soul and make you want to dance - be yourself - express yourself.

So, it might not be politically correct, but it is intelligent and funny!

----

Will there be a cast recording? Maybe, but first, check out the above links to the "Electricity" video performed by Elton John, Liam Mower, and Isaac James. The single will be released on June 11, 2005 in three formats that you can order from eltonjohn.com. If you wish, you could also listen to a rather lame version of the hilarious song that Billy and Michael performs on the show "Expressing Yourself" - here performed by Sir Elton John:

Broadband: http://www.eltonjohn.com/now/projects/billy_elton_bband.ram
Modem: http://www.eltonjohn.com/now/projects/billy_elton_modem.ram

Will it ever come to Broadway? Probably, but some doubt has been heard, and the producers are waiting for reactions from the London audience. It is a very British musical, and some things (not just the dialect) might be hard for Americans to grasp. It would probably suffer a great deal from an americanization where the Thatcher criticism ("Solidarity" and "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher") is lost.







Updated On: 8/23/05 at 09:44 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#1
Posted: 7/1/05 at 10:01pm
thanks for your post! i LOVE the close up of LIAM from the video re: Billy Elliot The Musical
RIP glebby <3
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#2
Posted: 7/1/05 at 11:27pm
I LOVE Liam... saw him as Billy... OMG, that boy's SO cute and AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I may post a clip of him singing Electricity! (if I have time) for those US BE fans!
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#3
Posted: 7/2/05 at 7:25pm

Updated On: 7/29/05 at 07:25 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#4
Posted: 7/2/05 at 8:35pm
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
Updated On: 8/2/05 at 08:35 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#5
Posted: 7/2/05 at 11:33pm
WEP, thanks for posting the pix re: Billy Elliot The Musical
RIP glebby <3
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#6
Posted: 7/3/05 at 12:08am
someone got a link for the video without real player! thank you so much. it's amazing.
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#7
Posted: 7/3/05 at 3:48am
Indeed! At http://entertainment.msn.co.uk/music/musicvideos4/Default.asp# you can watch and listen with the Media Player. You will need to register, but the registration is free.
Updated On: 7/3/05 at 03:48 AM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#8
Posted: 7/3/05 at 4:39am
Here is an interesting fact:

The choreography, with the chairs and the flying etc., is not actually the choreography for "Electricity" on the show. The choreography in the video is basically taken from a dream sequence where, on stage, another piece of music is used. When performing "Electricity" on stage, the choreography is different depending on who the leading boy is - Liam does a ballet, while James and George does a contemporary number (which even so does include some really difficult moves).
Updated On: 7/29/05 at 04:39 AM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#9
Posted: 7/3/05 at 5:01am
Again,

if anyone has any good photos of the sets, I would love to see them.

Akiva
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#10
Posted: 7/3/05 at 1:38pm
LLW, there are no GOOD photos of the set because the set wasn't very GOOD re: Billy Elliot The Musical
RIP glebby <3
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#11
Posted: 7/3/05 at 4:38pm
I wouldn't say it wasn't good. It allowed for the same props to be turned into many things - by pulling out a wall or alike. This is not the kind of play where the set is big an astonishing. The biggest thing is probably the staircase structure that rises from the floor, with Billy's bed at the top and a small kitchen at the bottom. (Oh, and the Iron Lady...) Of course, the moving structures that form the boxing/ballet room, the outside of the Wilkinson house, and a whole lot of other things, are interesting. They almost seemlessly convey the scenery and become what is necessary. The biggest change is probably when a curtain falls and when it rises it reveals the stage of the Royal Ballet. (Also, chairs are very important!) And let's not forget Michael's tap dancing number, when the scene turns into a completely mad place with glitter, lights and dresses.

Here is a picture of the three "bairn" playing Michael:

re: Billy Elliot The Musical

Ryan Longbottom, Brad Kavanagh, and Ashley Lloyd

Updated On: 7/29/05 at 04:38 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#12
Posted: 7/3/05 at 4:52pm
you're right, the set IS very functional. it's just not spectacular.

is billy's bedroom platform used more effectively now? when i saw the show in previews, the platform was loud, clunky, and slowed down the show every time it was raised/lowered.
RIP glebby <3
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#13
Posted: 7/3/05 at 5:05pm
All that has been fixed. Everything now moves silently. If you ask me, I am a fan of "less is more" when it comes to a theatre set. I have never been a great fan of spectacular sets, such as the Phantom or many of the other big musicals running at the moment. Dont forget that for the really big dance numbers, the set it almost empty, and whatever little things are left on the stage completely disappear from your mind (except for some important chairs...).

"It's like when you've been crying,
And you're empty and your full
I don't know what it is, it's hard to tell
It's like that there's a music playing in your ear,
But the music is impossible, impossible to hear..."

Updated On: 7/3/05 at 05:05 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#14
Posted: 7/3/05 at 5:05pm
All that has been fixed. Everything now moves silently. If you ask me, I am a fan of "less is more" when it comes to a theatre set. I have never been a great fan of specacular sets, such as the Phantom or many of the other big musicals running at the moment. Dont forget that for the really big dance numbers, the set it almost empty, and whatever little things are left on the stage completely disappear from your mind (except for some important chairs...).

"It's like when you've been crying,
And you're empty and your full
I don't know what it is, it's hard to tell
It's like that there's a music playing in your ear,
But the music is impossible, impossible to hear..."
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#15
Posted: 7/3/05 at 5:57pm
i'm glad to hear about the improvements!
RIP glebby <3
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#16
Posted: 7/3/05 at 10:18pm
This is all very exciting.
I wish the American Media would stop saying the American Public won't get the English Accents and some of the Storyline.
Give Us some credit and let us decide for ourselves.
If it is as good as I hear the staging and performances will carry this show and it will or won't be the Hit we are hearing about.
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#17
Posted: 7/4/05 at 2:51pm
The key to the success would really be to find the right Billy and not to cut the rough edges of the storyline, even though they might offend some. The dialect is difficult, but to the best of my knowledge none of the current Billies is an actual Geordie, and would not normally use expressions such as "Divan be daft, that's just for lasses. I wear me shorts" or "Howay, I want to show you something." (Other characters say things such as "Of course he's arl reet, you daft fanny" or "It's everybody's future, It's everybody's past, It's not about a bairn who wants to dance.") That didn't stop them. The kids are doing a good job, even though they've had to work hard on the dialect with a coach. As to the american audience not getting the storyline, maybe they could if they put their minds to it, and judging from the audiences that has seen it (plenty of americans already), they do seem to enjoy themselves, and have a good time, even though they sometimes do not understand just about everything that's being said and done. You don't have to. It's like saying you must understand the french history to enjoy Les Misérables, or the politics of the Vietnam war to enjoy Miss Saigon. If the lad playing Billy has a good day, you just have to watch him unveil the story through dancing alone and with his fellow actors/dancers, and you will realise that it's really a universal story of understanding and acceptance - of ourselves and others.

"And I promise you this, Mammy,
In everything I do,
I'll always be myself, Mammy,
And I'll always be true.
Love you forever,
Mam."

Updated On: 7/4/05 at 02:51 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#18
Posted: 7/4/05 at 4:16pm
Here are some pictures of Christopher Parkinson as Billy Elliot, taken during workshop rehearsals at the Old Vic Theatre (August, 2003).
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
Here is the company, also from rehearsals at the Old Vic Theatre.
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
This is Peter Darling, the choreographer, during rehearsals at the Old Vic Theatre:
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
This is the creative team, also from you know where:
re: Billy Elliot The Musical
Left to right: Martin Koch (Musical Supervisor); Julian Webber (Associate Director); Elton John (Composer); Stephen Daldry (Director); Lee Hall (Writer); Peter Darling (Choreographer)
This is Stephen Daldry during rehearsals at the American Church in London:
re: Billy Elliot The Musical

"Everyone is different,
It's the natural state"

(From "Expressing Yourself" - Billy Elliot the Musical)


Updated On: 7/29/05 at 04:16 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#19
Posted: 7/5/05 at 8:07am
I saw James Lomas, and I'm guessing one of the difficult moves that you're talking about is at the end where he runs up the wall and then does a backwards somersault. That, among other things, took my breath away.
Nothing precious, plain to see, don't make a fuss over me. Not loud, not soft, but somewhere inbetween. Say sorry, just let it be the word you mean.
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#20
Posted: 7/5/05 at 4:16pm
It's amazing the kid doesn't break his neck or something. One false step and the show is over.
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#21
Posted: 7/5/05 at 5:04pm
I also saw James Lomas, who's routine consisted of more gymnastics than ballet moves. He executed them like a pro, and it seemed more realistic for a boy from a working-class neighborhood.


'The Devil be hitting me!'--Whitney Houston
Updated On: 7/5/05 at 05:04 PM
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#22
Posted: 7/5/05 at 8:08pm
Maybe, but it doesn't matter. The whole story is about doing something really different that isn't expected, accepting who you are. Is it really believable that a boy would/could perform any complicated dance moves without proper training, street or ballet? Probably not, but it highlights the story in a hyperbolic way.
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#23
Posted: 7/5/05 at 8:13pm
I saw Liam in the role and he was just amazing. It is pretty obvious that Liam is the best of the three- he performed on the official press night and then performed on the night that Ben Brantley was invited to review. I personally wish the show would stay in London and not get ruined on Broadway. I just don't think the show will be 100% as good on Broadway.

As for the boys not being true "Geordies". That's true but all the boys are from Northern England so their natural accent approximates the Geordie accent.
"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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re: Billy Elliot The Musical#24
Posted: 7/5/05 at 9:57pm
I think it should stay in London too for good! I mean it is quite obvious if it is transferring, there would be ALOT of stuff to be done, and the training of the accent will be tough! And it will soon fade ,like the American accent in CHICAGO in London, over the years.....
And I think another reason is, another Elton John musical, Aida did not come to London and stayed on Broadway and I think it would be nice for us to have our own Elton John musical!
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