Billy brings laughter, sharp steps

Billy Elliot, the Broadway Musical hit, came to The Fox Theatre on its tour of the U.S. over Spring Break (March 13-18). The winner of 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical was well received at its early showings in Atlanta. The show is based off of a movie about a motherless young boy from an English mining town who gives up boxing to discover his passion for dance.

[media-credit id=15 align=”aligncenter” width=”711″][/media-credit]Billy (J.P. Viernes) faces adversity from his poor mining family, who don’t support his dreams. The controversy is further fueled by the stresses of a large organized strike by the British National Union of Mineworkers, based on true events in the ‘80s.

To put it simply, the show is hilarious. Though it isn’t a comedy, it’s more funny than anything else. However, it is peppered with brief dark periods from time to time. The dynamic between characters as well as the miner family’s reactions to Billy’s dream of dancing is laugh out loud funny, and every character offers a laugh every now and then. The comic relief provides a strong, but perfect balance to a background of turmoil and struggle.

The set pieces weren’t quite breathtaking, but they did do a decent job of portraying the simplicity of a poor miner’s home. The costumes on the other hand did very well to recall the strange styles of the ‘80s, and often times added to the humor of the cast.

The strongest part of the show would have to be the choreography, fitting for a story telling the tale of a dancer. Choreographer Peter Darling was brilliant, not only with stunning solo dances, but also with imaginative group performances. One of the most impressive was “Angry Dance,” an electric close to the first act. Even if you don’t enjoy the rest of the musical, any avid dance fan will love it just for this performance.

Though the choreography was very impressive, the vocals and score were a close second. J.P. Viernes’s voice was less than satisfactory, but in this category the show was stolen by Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy’s dance teacher played by the wonderful Leah Hocking. Her performance was arguably the best in the show. However, every group number was just as impressive. With a score written by Sir Elton John himself, audiences shouldn’t expect any less than the best.

Overall, the cast gives strong performances all-around. With strong acting from Billy (J.P. Viernes), Leah Hocking, Dad (Rich Hebert), Grandma (Patti Perkins), and Tony (Joel Blum), and several more, Billy Elliot has a whole lot to offer. Although it isn’t quite a must see, if you can, go see it.