Saturday, July 30, 2011

Musical in the City - BILLY ELLIOT

Billy Elliot musical
On Thursday, Mijo and I saw Billy Elliot at the Orpheum Theatre and it instantly became one of my favorites. Could it be because I could somewhat relate to the musical? Could it also be that sitting in the mid-orchestra section might have contributed to the overall experience? We're fortunate to have gotten orchestra tickets for the price we would have paid for balcony seats. (Thanks!) It was a very entertaining show.

Here are three things I loved about this musical:

First, I love the musical's sense of humor. I don't remember laughing this hard when I saw the movie not too long ago. Mrs. Wilkinson, played by Tony-awarded Faith Prince, has sarcasm flowing out of her mouth but deep inside she's truly selfless, giving and comes out funny funny funny! She reminds me of  Ms. Dizon, a teacher I had in highschool.  The same with Billy's friend Michael, played by Jacob Zelonky. He's like this funny childhood friend you'd love to have and keep.

Billy ElliotSecond, I appreciate The Asian Billy Elliot. Lex Ishimoto, one of the five kids cast as Billy, performed that evening. At first, it was weird to see an Asian kid play Billy especially during scenes when he's with the rest of his Irish family. Then I realized that it is actually a good twist because it gives the musical another layer.  It is absolutely an only-in San Francisco twist. This actor danced marvelously particularly during the 'angry dance' and the Swan Lake scene in 'Electricity' when he was dancing with the older version of himself which is probably the highlight of the show.  Flawless is probably the appropriate word. I hope to see more good things from this young man in the future. I wonder if the other Billy's are as good as the Asian Billy?

Billy Elliot Third, the music and choreography were fantastic. The orchestra incorporated the sounds of an English brass band. There were scenes where the full company including the all-girls ballet class, the picketting union workers and the Irish police were performing as a group. They sang and danced so beautifully especially in Solidarity! These scenes are each in separate segments in the movie so I really enjoyed how the musical wove them together and the result was amazing. So much imagination was put into the group scenes especially in the beginning of the second act and 'once we were kings'.

The 'Letter' is very touching. If you have lost a loved one, you'd know what I am talking about.

I made a deep sigh on the last scene when Billy was leaving his hometown, a mining town in Northern England, to go to the ballet school. Remember the first time you left home and felt like your life will never be the same again? If you do, you'd feel for Billy.

The musical runs for a little less than 3 hours with one 15-minute intermission. It is playing at the Orpheum Theatre through the end of August.


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