Set against the backdrop of a lengthy coal miners’ strike that took place in 1980s Northern England, Billy Elliot is about a motherless boy who wants to give up his boxing lessons and learn to be a dancer.
A musical adaptation of the popular British independent movie of the same name, Billy Elliot has been an enormous hit in London’s West End and is now amazing Broadway audiences as well. Lee Hall has written a solid and sometimes pleasantly surprising stage version of his own original screenplay, and together he and legendary singer/songwriter Elton John have created a functional score that is good, though seldom soars. Billy Elliot‘s greatest strengths are its stars (a few extraordinarily talented young performers who alternate in the title role), director Stephen Daldry’s inspired staging, and Peter Darling’s electric choreography.
No, the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit musical Billy Elliot won’t be leaving Broadway anytime soon, but the show will be launching a national tour next year. At last, many people who don’t have a chance to travel to New York City to see this wonderful Broadway musical will be able to see it in their own town. The touring company of Billy Elliot will start in Chicago in March 2010 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, where it will have an extended run before moving on to other cities. Billy Elliot is based on the independent British film of the same name, which is about a boy from working-class England who dreams of learning ballet.
The sun shined in Radio City Music Hall last night where they held the 63rd Annual Tony Awards, and where Best Musical Revival winner Hair made a particularly impressive showing. The broadcast’s opening number began with Elton John singing a song from Best Musical winner Billy Elliot, which led into a medley that featured several current Broadway shows, culminating in all of the performers singing “Let the Sun Shine In” together on stage as Hair‘s hippies prowled through the aisles and danced with Tony attendees. The rest of the ceremony – for better or for worse – was similarly eventful, and was jam-packed with musical numbers this year (including songs from touring shows Legally Blonde, Mamma Mia, and Jersey Boys). Neil Patrick Harris proved to be a great host, with a relaxed demeanor and a sharp wit – he also sang a hilarious closing song recapping highlights from the ceremony. Big winners during the night included Best Play winner God of Carnage and Best Revival of a Play winner The Norman Conquests. Actors that took home trophies included Angela Lansbury and Geoffrey Rush, whose acceptance speeches were particular highlights, Next To Normal‘s Alice Ripley, West Side Story‘s Karen Olivo, and the trio of young men who play the title role in Billy Elliot.
The 54th Annual Drama Desk Awards, which recognize the best of New York theater both on and off Broadway, were held tonight at LaGuardia Concert Hall in a ceremony hosted by Harvey Fierstein. Not surprisingly, Billy Elliot took the most honors, nabbing all 10 of the awards that it was nominated for, including Outstanding Musical, Director of a Musical, Choreography, Book, and the Best Music award for its composer, Elton John. The Norman Conquests conquered the Outstanding Revival of a Play category, Hair took Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and Pulitzer Prize winner Ruined got Outstanding Play. Special Outstanding Ensemble Performance awards were given to the casts of The Norman Conquests and The Cripple of Inishmaan. The Drama Desks are sometimes thought of as an early indicator of how the Tony Awards might go (much like the Golden Globes are to the Oscars), but this year there were some pretty significant differences between the two. The Drama Desk’s Outstanding Play winner, Ruined, for instance, isn’t even eligible for a Tony because it is an Off-Broadway production and the Tonys only recognize Broadway shows. Meanwhile Next To Normal, a major Tony contender for Best Musical and other awards, wasn’t eligible for a Drama Desk this year because it had already been eligible last season, when it appeared in a high profile Off-Broadway production at Second Stage Theatre.
“Finding Billy,” a new documentary about the casting of the three performers currently playing the title role in Billy Elliot on Broadway, airs on New York’s PBS station tonight. The program offers a behind-the-scenes look at the nationwide search for three young men with the acting, singing, and dancing talent necessary to carry the lead in Broadway’s hottest new musical.
It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for Billy Elliot, a huge hit in London, to finally make its way to Broadway. At last, the musical about a working-class lad with ballet dreams has a Broadway opening date — October 16, 2008. Based on the film of the same name, Billy Elliot has music by Elton John and book/lyrics by Lee Hall. The show will begin its Broadway preview period at the Imperial Theatre on September 17.