“Billy Elliot The Musical” at Village Theatre

 

One attends “Billie Elliot…” expecting a lot. The show garnered many awards when first staged in London in 2005, and its Broadway (2008) production won in practically every award category possible. So yes, one does expect a lot from its mounting at the Village. The good news is, you get all you expect and more!

 

You no doubt know the story. In coal mining towns throughout England in the mid 1980s life became very difficult as Margaret Thatcher’s policies toward the coal industry made a sick industry even sicker. Pits were closed; strikes were called; economic hardship resulted; and social disruption ensued. This dramatically affected young Billy’s life. His father, a miner, had strong ideas about solidarity and masculinity.

 

This is a tale of hard times, young talent, and a beleaguered community. Men’s lives were difficult, and they lived up to a rough code. The poufs who showed questionable evidence of rugged manhood were reviled. As incomes fell and stresses rose, it was not a time for boys and ballet. But Billy discovered dance and showed remarkable talent. Outraged at this apparent lack of masculinity, Billy’s father forbade him to take advantage of a great opportunity.

 

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Nikita Baryshnikov, Bito Gottesman, Philipp Mergener, and Vincent Bennett (Billy Elliot). Billy Elliot the Musical Pre Production photo. © 2016 Mark Kitaoka. Property of Village Theatre.

But right does eventually prevail. The village comes to Billy’s defense and helps make his dreams come true. It all plays out with terrific music (by Elton John), and spectacular dance numbers choreographed by Katy Tabb. Director Steve Tomkins has assembled a dynamite cast. Tim Symons’ musicians do him proud.

 

Four young local dancers share the role of Billy. On the night I saw the show, the dancing was awe inspiring, and fine acting supports it. Mari Nelson as Mrs. Wilkinson, the local dance teacher who encourages and trains Billie displays a steely determination coated with a motherly warmth. Eric Polani Jensen as Dad displays the grit acquired in a tough life as well as its emotional cost. These are the standouts in a finely honed ensemble cast.

 

If musical theatre is your thing, this is a blue ribbon presentation, and if it’s not, you may want to make an exception for this one.

 

Through July 3 at the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah, (425 392-2202) and July 8-31 at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett (425 257-8600) or VillageTheatre.org.

 

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