‘Billy Elliot The Musical’ shows off the ‘wow’ factor

Rachel Mracna, Faith Prince and Daniel Russell in 'Billy Elliot

I have been getting dizzy trying to come up with adjectives

Billy Elliot the Musical

and it all simply comes down to


There has never been a show that reached the ultimate in
delivery as

My Fair Lady,


Billy Elliot the Musical

I have been getting dizzy trying to come up with adjectives for “Billy Elliot the Musical” and it all simply comes down to “wow.” There has never been a show that reached the ultimate in delivery as “My Fair Lady,” until “Billy Elliot the Musical”.

Taken from the Oscar-winning movie directed by Stephen Daltry and written by Lee Hall, the musical soars to theatre heights. The same team that made the movie created the less gloomy musical version with the addition of Elton John’s music. Nothing has been spared to recreate the heart wrenching theme of the piece – but there is a tragically comedic thread that weaves through the plot, which wasn’t in the movie and brings a more human element to the musical.

The threat of mine closures and the hardship of the miners in Durham, Northeast England in 1984, is the basis for the plot. Interwoven is a young boy’s talent and desire to become a ballet dancer in a macho driven society. What? How? Well they do it, and it absolutely works.

How do I describe the ballet de core made up of 8- to 12-year-olds in tutus that out-dance, out-act and out-charm their contemporaries in any show anywhere? Professionally scrumptious will just have to inadequately do.

Then there is Billy Elliot. The role is so demanding that this production carries five talented leading young men (ages 13 to 15), who alternate shows and were chosen from auditions held nationwide from more than 1,500 tryouts.

Fifteen-year-old J.P. Verne (from Half Moon Bay) gave the ultimate performance on opening night, doing ballet, modern, tapping, flying, acting and singing with the polish and professionalism of his more experienced peers. The flying Swan Lake number that has Billy dancing and flying with himself in the future is inspiring. Peter Darling’s choreography is daring and electrifying.

Award-winning Faith Prince is formidably precious as Mrs. Wilkinson, a cigarette sucking, burnt-out ballet teacher with an eye for Billy’s talent. Her projection is so satisfying you find yourself adoring her grit, and her hidden, controlled sensitivity makes you want to get to know her better.

The extremely strong cast makes this show completely satisfying. Every show has some imperfections, but the overall production overwhelms any small bumps that might be criticized.

Both Ian MacNeil’s innovative sets, which appear from everywhere with smoothness, unfolding and sliding from walls and ceilings, and Rick Fisher’s inspired lighting give the audience a feeling of being a part of the production. A strong conductor brings in a well coordinated orchestra.

This show walked away with 10 well deserved Tonys in 2009, and has won 73 other awards worldwide. “BETM” first opened in the United Kingdom in 2005, in Australia in 2007, on Broadway in 2008 and in Korea and touring companies in 2010. Nothing has been spared to make “Billy Elliot the Musical” one of the finest shows to appear on any stage.

If you want to be completely entertained and see theatre history, go see “Billy Elliot the Musical”.



Where: Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market St., San Francisco

Through: Sept. 17

Tickets: $35-$99

Details: (888) 746-1799.

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