Laugh, Cry, Dance

I’m a laugher. I laugh often and heartily, even if at the silliest jokes. For example, my favorite joke (or the only one I can remember) is “What’d the farmer say when he lost his tractor?” Pause. “Where’s my tractor!” I’m chuckling right now.

I also cry. Give me a sappy scene in a movie, a TV show, or a commercial and I’ll have tears running down my face. It embarrasses the heck out of my son when we’re at the movies, but I just like to say I’m sensitive.

Now dancing – don’t get me started. Dancing is a release, it’s a joy, it’s what I do when I need to remove all the stress and just have fun! For a brief moment I even taught when I was younger, but now I just hop into The Joynt or rock out at Elbo Room when things get to be a little too tense.

What does this have to do with Billy Elliot the Musical? I laughed; I cried; and it made me want to dance. I bet it will do the same for you.

Set during the British National Union of Mineworkers strike in 1984, the material is anything but light and happy. It’s about how working class families struggled to maintain their dignity when their principles kept them from working. It was a time of want and grief and violence, but this musical also illustrates how people come together in times of adversity and rally around a dream. Billy Elliot is a young boy who accidentally, to the dismay of his miner father and brother, discovers not only that he loves dancing but that he excels at it. For these manly men, the idea that little Billy wants to prance around like a little fairy is a disgrace. Elton John wrote the music for the show, and during these scenes you can’t help but feel the honesty that’s reflected from his own upbringing.

At times the brother’s over the top and the father is a mamby-pamby wuss that you want to shake and say “be a father”!, but those are compensated for by the tough-but-tender Mrs. Wilkinson and the incredible skill of the cast of children. Billy and his friend Michael, in particular, will give you goosebumps. J.P. Viernes portrayed Billy and Michael was played by Dillon Stevens during the performance I saw, but there’s a rotating cast of actors that fill these roles. I’m including some B-Roll footage below that features several of the actors.

Billy Elliot the Musical will be at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts through January 15. Just don’t forget your tissues and your dancin’ shoes.

Video courtesy of Margie Korshak, Inc. Warning: there’s a beep at the beginning that I wasn’t able to edit.






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