‘Billy Elliot’ is thrilling, heartwarming journey

“Billy Elliot”

4.5/5 Pitchforks

Parental Discretion Advised (language)

Running April 26 to May 8

“Billy Elliot” is an exhilarating musical that tells the story of a young boy growing up in a small town in England, who accidentally discovers his dancing talent and strives to prove himself.

Watching young Billy, portrayed by Daniel Russell on Wednesday evening, was tremendously thrilling — you might even say electrifying. During Act 2, Billy Elliot is asked what it feels like when he dances. He ponders the question for a moment before starting to perform the number, “Electricity.” Russell continued to amaze with his graceful dance moves set to a fantastic song — of course, who would expect anything less from a score by Elton John?

But for me, the most electrifying moment of the show wasn’t when Billy sang “Electricity,” but when he danced in “Angry Dance.” The number has no dialogue or lyrics. It simply gave Russell a few minutes to recklessly display his raw talent on stage below blindingly bright lights.

As the music began, it was clear that this number was going to be intense. The beat and the lights intensified the moment, and words cannot describe the feeling of watching Russell perform. He was breathtaking throughout the entire show, but his energy there at the end of the first act was inspiring.

Another memorable part of the show is the number, “Solidarity.”

While Billy was busy impressing his dance class and teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson (Faith Prince), chaos was brewing outside in the town. Billy’s father (Rich Herbert) was one of the miners who went on strike at the start of the play, which follows the timeline of an actual 1984 miners’ strike.

The strength of the miners is displayed continuously throughout the show, along with the resistance from the police. Their pull of power back and forth was symbolically displayed by dance during “Solidarity.”

The juxtaposition of innocence and purity from the young ballet dancers next to the edge and perseverance of the miners and the police was unlike anything I’d ever seen on stage before.

The entire cast is extremely talented. Prince is able to play Mrs. Wilkinson very realistically. She skillfully balances the character’s humor as well as her heart, making the audience believe that she truly cares about Billy and his talent.

Likewise, Billy’s best friend in the show, Michael (Griffin Birney), has a tough role to play. The character is young, and yet he knows himself and trusts his friend enough to be honest with him about something that many adults have a hard time facing. Birney (who played the role Wednesday evening) executed the character brilliantly.

There were even heartfelt moments between Billy and his late mother, who made appearances a few times throughout the show.

Tickets can be purchased online at asugammage.com, over the phone by calling 1-800-982-ARTS (2787) or in person by visiting the ASU Gammage box office.

Reach the reporter at mmattox@asu.edu


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