The touring production of Billy Elliot (http://www.billyelliottour.com/us-tour), which is now playing at the Peace Center through Sunday Feb 17th, was very well-received by Greenville audiences. The story revolves around a young boy who is torn between his natural ability for ballet and the male-dominated mining community that is his home. The play takes place in northern England in the 80s during the longest national strike in the country’s history. Billy, who traditionally should be spending his after-school hours at boxing lessons, has discovered instead a love of ballet. The plot, based on a hit motion picture, lends itself easily and readily to opportunities for all types of choreography. What’s more, the title role is played by a handful of enormously talented 12-13 year old boys. They, and indeed all of the children in the production, add a fun layer of “can you believe that?” to the evening. Anyone who loves Broadway musicals, particularly those filled with tap dancing and ballet will enjoy this production.
The highlight of the evening comes fairly early when Billy’s grandmother recalls her youth and time spent with her husband. Her performance is simple and beautiful and juxtaposed against a line of dancers moving slowly across the stage in beautiful shapes full of emotion and story.
Not everyone is a fan of Elton John’s previous musical theater work, but those who have enjoyed it will likely continue to appreciate his work in this production. With Billy Elliot he has made a transition from the more pop-based music of The Lion King and Aida to a more solidly musical theatre style.