Theatre Information

Broadway in Richmond Billy Elliot

By • Feb 2nd, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Billy Elliot
Broadway in Richmond: (Info) (Web)
Landmark Theater, Richmond, VA
Through February 3rd
2:55 with one intermission
Reviewed February 1st, 2013

I have now been able to check off another show at the top of my bucket list: Billy Elliot.

To be honest, the evening had a rough start. Construction scaffolding lines the entrance way to the Landmark Theater, and the ticket windows are outdoors, under that scaffolding (in temperatures near 20 degrees.) The show started right on time, however, surprisingly the ushers made no attempts to have late arrivals wait, so there was a steady stream of patrons walking about throughout the opening number. Also, numerous understudies were announced for the evenings’ performance.

But Billy Elliot is all about; well, Billy Elliot. And Billy Elliot is all about dancing. The performance of Drew Minard as Billy was well worth the wait in the cold! By evenings’ end it was clear the audience was watching a star in the making.

For those not familiar with the Broadway Musical, or the movie that inspired it; Billy Elliot is about an 11-year-old boy from a poor, working class family in 1980′s Northern England. Set amidst the 1984-85 coal miner’s strike involving Billy’s father and brother; Billy Elliot is about a boy coming of age and discovering himself. While Billy’s father wants him to learn to box; Billy wants to be a dancer.

A local dance teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson portrayed by Janet Dickinson, takes Billy under her wing. Dickinson gives a stand out performance as the caustic, frustrated and hardened woman. Dickinson was reminiscent of a young Swoozie Kurtz. Also noteworthy were understudy Susan Haefner as Billy’s senile and bawdy grandmother and Jake Kitchin as Billy’s cross dressing friend Michael. Kitchin showed excellent comedic timing and energy for his age.

But, again, the show is all about Billy. Minard had such exuberance and stage presence that no matter who else was on stage, even the entire ensemble, his performance was riveting. His acting, comedic ability and consistency in cockney-like English dialect were good, but it was his dancing that was awe-inspiring. He displayed professional skill in his lines, control and ability to tell a story and display emotion with his body and movements. In “Expressing Yourself,” his skill stands up against an adult ballet dancer/his older self. He leaps, and twirls and yes, even flies effortlessly and doesn’t ever seem the slightest bit winded or tired. His anger, anguish and rage in the “Angry Dance” show amazing talent and range.

Not everything worked for me, however. Some aspects of the movie did not translate well. Some characters became more caricatures. The dancing policemen seemed more appropriate for Mary Poppins. Some of the supporting actors accents seemed garbled at times. While most of the sets worked, some did not; such as Billy’s bed at the top of a short mobile platform. It was great for choreography; not so much for acting.

Be sure to stay for the curtain calls. Many audience members started to leave when the final curtain fell and missed an excellent tap number. Billy Elliot will surely dance his way into your heart.

The Cast (as performed on 2/1/13)

  • Billy: Drew Minard
  • Mrs. Wilkinson: Janet Dickinson
  • Michael: Jake Kitchin
  • Dad: Craig Bennett
  • Grandma: Susan Haefner
  • Tony: Cullen R. Titmas
  • George: Joel Blum
  • Debbie: Samantha Blaire Cutler
  • Small Boy: Cal Alexander
  • Big Davey: Damien Brett
  • Lesley: Danielle Kelsey
  • Scab/Posh Dad: Tim Funnell
  • Mum: Molly Garner
  • Mr. Braithwaite: Patrick Wetzel
  • Tracey Adkinson: Rebecca Marlowe
  • Older Boy/Scottish Dancer: Christopher M. Howard
  • Mr. Wilkerson: David Light
  • Tall Boy/Posh Boy: Sam Poon
  • Postman: Colin Pritchard
  • Clipboard Woman: Cara Massey
  • Audition Panel: Sasha Ely-Judkis, Jillian Rees-Brown, Patrick Wetzel, Branch Woodman
  • Expressing Yourself Dancer: Peyton Royal
  • Ensemble: Paul Aguirre, Tim Funnell, Molly Garner, Christopher M. Howard, Danielle Kelsey, Patrick Lavallee, David Light, Cara Massey, Joel Newsome, Jeffrey Pew, Robbie Roby, Patrick Wetzel, Marisa Kennedy, Colin Pritchard, Peyton Royal.
  • Ballet Girls: Madison Barnes, Sydney Burtis, Natalie Edwards, Maria Knasel, Rebecca Marlowe, Yanna Nikitas, Brionna Trilling, Lexi Viernes, Alison Solomon

The Crew

  • Director: Stephen Daldry
  • Choreographer: Peter Darling
  • Associate Choreographer: Kathryn Dunn, Alison Levenberg
  • Associate Director: Julian Webber, Justin Martin
  • Supervising Resident Director: Steven Minning
  • Musical Director: Bill Congdon
  • Production Stage Manager: Gregory R. Covert
  • Stage Manager: Melissa Chacon
  • Assistant Stage Managers: Aaron Gonzalez, Jennifer A. Shenker
  • Set Designer: Ian McNeil
  • Design Supervisor: Edward Pierce
  • Lighting Design: Rick Fisher
  • Associate Lighting Design: Kristina Kloss, Daniel Walker
  • Costume Design: Nicky Gillibrand
  • Associate Costume Designers: Claire Murphy, Rachel Attridge
  • Hair and Wig Design: Bernie Ardia
  • Sound Design: Paul Arditti
  • Associate Sound Design: Tony Smolenski IV
  • Conducted By: Bill Congdon
  • Musical Supervision: Martin Koch, David Chase
  • Music: Elton John
  • Book and Lrics: Lee Hall

Disclaimer: Broadway in Richmond/Centerstage provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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