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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Musicals: Billy Elliot

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Thank you, thank you so much for that very handy link! So far I've only read the latest two reviews, but I've bookmarked this page - it's a very handy one for reference.


It's also quite interesting to read multiple reviews of one play and see the, sometimes subtle, different takes the reviewers have.


The political under current sounds much stronger in the stage version, given the fact that I'm an American living in the USA, than I felt when watching the movie version. What have any of you who've seen it felt about this? Do you agree with the reviewers?

Edited by BW
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So glad that it helped, especially considering all the wonderful help I've received from this board!!! :thumbsup: It is, indeed, a very handy-dandy link!


I saw the film here, and didn't fully appreciate the background of closed down mining towns, etc. However, my current British flatmate has done a great deal to educate me, which has helped when watching movies such as the Full Monty, Brassed Off, etc. From an academic standpoint, the book _Learning to Labour, Why working class kids get working class jobs_ provided a really interesting (and shocking, given my fairly innocent upbringing!!!) insight to the subjectivities of young and adolescent boys of working class families in parts of the UK. From my conversations with my flatmate and other northerners, the sting of the era is still felt sharply and deeply. I think someone who is British would be much more able than I am to speak on this though. I'm now even more excited to see this, anyone wanna buy me a ticket??? :wink:


The off-shoot is that there is an increasing number of stories/reports about young dancing boys in Britain as the 'next Billy Elliot' or 'A Billy Elliot story'... etc. It's a bit silly at times, but if it's changing stereotypes and conceptions, I'm all for it!!!

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Yes, maybe you do have to be British to really understand the politics - or rather the combination of politics and human emotions - in Billy Elliott. I haven't seen the stage version yet, but when I saw the film version of Billy Elliott I just wept - but at the scenes of the miners' strike, not the story of a young boy's struggle. I spent the early years of my life in Northumberland, and have watched with dismay the tearing apart of lives there through de-industrialisation - which had a political/ideological motivation as well as the economic one which was cited as the main reason for losing the pits all over England & Wales. But I'm sure there are US equivalents, and I'm interested in whether the film did a good job of explaining the political in personal terms for non-UK spectators?


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Redbookish, I felt that I had a fairly good grip on the political side of the movie. Having read "How Green Was My Valley" when I was quite young, and seen Roddie McDowell in the movie version, it didn't seem all that much different - generally speaking.


In the USA, we have, among other examples, the coal mining scenarios in West Virginia from the times pre Union to when the Union organizers came along - there are many, many books - both fiction and non fiction -on this volitaile time in socio-economic and political history in the USA... It wasn't too long ago that coal miners from PA and WVA were picketing their parent company in, of all places, Greenwich, CT! (For those who aren't from the Northeast of the USA - Greenwich, CT has been the bastion of the monied Waspish (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) preppie set forever...though lately it's changing and becoming a more "diverse" :wink::thumbsup: "monied" bastion.)


I think it's great that the play is delving more deeply into this side of the Billy Elliot story, for a variety of reasons and am really looking forward to it. :wink:

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Those parallels are really interesting, BW, and I'm glad that part of the film was legible to non-Brit audiences and emotionally affecting. I wondered, because I had heard stories of US audiences needing subtitles for The Full Monty because of the Sheffield accents! But maybe that's just one of those 'silly Americans' stories we English have a (completely unwarranted) sense of superiority about!! :innocent:

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:D I loved The Full Monty and didn't have any trouble understanding those fellows. :grinning:


I will tell you that over this past weekend I watched the latest version of The Merchant of Venice with Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino, among others - now that Elizabethan English a la Shakepseare did take my ears a fair time to become accustomed to! :D


As for those "silly American stories", I think they're probably like most generalities - there's probably be a pinch of truth somewhere, somehow in them. :sweating::P

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ben Brantley reviews Billy Elliot in June 20th's issue of the NY Times: A Miner's Son Who Dreams, Then Dances It's a very interesting article because he not only reviews the dancing, the acting, the sets, the lights and the music but gives his take on this musical as it compares with past and current musicals.


...You have to go back a long time to find a musical as thoroughly integrated, perhaps all the way to the first production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd," a musical as chilling as "Billy Elliot" is warming.


There is already debate about whether "Billy Elliot" will eventually move to Broadway. Certainly, it lacks the surface glitter and arch references to other musicals that now seem de rigueur for big Broadway hits. Instead of winking condescendingly at the sentimental clichés that drive its plot, it finds the eternal life in them. For all its conscious craftsmanship, it's the most unself-conscious musical in decades. Speculation has it that with its thick regional accents, local slang and period political references, "Billy Elliot" may be too British for Broadway. A more alarming thought is that while this show forges a visceral connection with its audience in a way American musicals were once famous for, "Billy Elliot" may simply be too full of real feeling for the synthetic Broadway of today.

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I read the review, and it made me want to see this musical all the more! It's sad that in the reviewer's eyes, it may not be suited to today's Broadway audiences. I'm not at all familiar with the state of American theater, but do you think maybe this reviewer isn't giving us (the audience) enough credit? :P I personally like things that make me think and feel.

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I don't think he meant that the audiences aren't capable of appreciating depth, but I do wonder if it's something to do with the genre that makes it big on Broadway anymore... I don't know much at all about the costs of doing business on Broadway, or the demographics of the lion's share of the audiences, however there has been a trend for theatres to have been swallowed up by corporations and, perhaps, this may have something to do with the overall feel of what makes it on Broadway these days. Not sure. :P

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Oh! I see your point--I'm far enough removed that I didn't realize there was this new trend on Broadway. Doesn't surprise me, though!

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Having seen the musical in London (see my earlier posts) I believe the critic is referring to thematic elements such as political humor - although we greatly enjoyed the musical, there were times when jokes, lines went over my head because, as an American, I didn't have the proper context and experiences. Regardless of this one minor point, it is a charming, entertaining musical that I can highly recommend.

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  • 2 years later...

The American version is opening on Broadway in October, and it is very exciting to see that two alumni of San Diego ballet schools will share the leading role--David Alvarez and Kiril Kulish! Best wishes to them!!

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  • 4 months later...

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