Thursday, July 07, 2011
Bay Area Broadway fans, rejoice! Billy Elliott the Musical is playing at San Francisco's Orpheum Theatre through September 17. There are even rush seats available (30 per show, first come first served, 2 per person, cash only) that you can get at the box office 2 hours before showtime at $40 per ticket.
About the show:
BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL is a joyous celebration of one young boy's journey to make his dreams come true. Ben Brantley of The New York Times calls BILLY ELLIOT "THE MOST INSPIRING SHOW I'VE SEEN IN YEARS."
Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a surprising passion that inspires his family and his whole community. A big musical with an even bigger heart, BILLY ELLIOT will enchant the dreamer in all of us.
I was given complimentary tickets to the show, so I took the other person in our family who loves to dance -- The Pea -- for a Girls Night Out, dinner and a show.
We LOVED it. I watched the movie several years ago, and loved that, so it came as no surprise that the musical was brilliant -- but even if you've watched the movie, you'll find something new to enjoy about the musical:
* You'll laugh a lot more, because there are many more one-liners and funny scenes that weren't in the movie.
* I think you'll also cry more, because the musical explores Billy's relationship with his dead mother in much greater depth. Every time Billy spoke with his mother, she came up on stage and I started sobbing at the thought of such a young boy missing his mummy.
* The dancing was also more prominent (hey, it is a Broadway musical, after all); in the movie, most of the dancing is done by Billy, but in the musical there are all sorts of musical dance numbers featuring Billy, his best friend Michael (I don't think Michael was in the movie, but he's a big part of the musical, and he's amazing), the miners, and the little girls who take Mrs. Wilkinson's ballet class along with Billy. The dancing was absolutely amazing, and I can't say enough about Billy!
You must watch it. You simply must.
Now, some caveats. Actually, they're only caveats for people thinking about taking their kids to the show:
1) The show, including intermission is 3 hours long. It started at 7:30PM and I was expecting it to end by 9:30, but it was 11:00 by the time the applause ended and the house lights went back up.
2) The show description includes the following parental advisory:
Billy Elliot is most appropriate for children 8 years of age or older. It contains strong language and some scenes of confrontation between policemen and miners.
Take it seriously. When they say "strong language", they mean it. Shit, stupid, Jesus, Christ and the F-word are used frequently -- by children as well as adults. Kids hurl insults at grownups and grownups swat and cuff the kids. It's totally appropriate for the play -- they're uneducated miners in Northern England, and that's how they speak, after all, and hearing the kids talk a blue streak was kind of funny -- but I did feel like covering The Pea's ears half the time! I made her swear, I mean promise, that she wouldn't use language like that in the real world :)
Also, the background story is quite a mouthful for a young child, and the clashes between policemen and miners were intense. Even The Pea, age 10, had a job trying to understand what was going on. She couldn't quite understand why it was such a big deal for Billy's father to go back to work, or why people were demoralized when the strike ended, or why it began in the first place.
There was a big posterboard about the British coal miner's strike with background information in the lobby, and it was quite an interesting read, but it was still difficult for The Pea to read through. I had to explain to her in simpler terms about labor unions, strikes and demonstrations before moving on to the actual events.
So if you've got young children who love to dance, I'd suggest waiting a few years to take them to see this musical. But it's a wonderful source of inspiration to older kids, especially those who love dance. Seeing all those young kids performing on stage really showed The Pea how far you can go with talent and dedication. And it's a wonderful message for kids everywhere to be true to yourself and follow your dreams.
Disclosure: Show information is provided by SHN and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.