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: 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 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. 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.
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