Transforming a quintessentially gritty British film to the stage is no mean feat, particularly given the astounding success Billy Elliot the Musical received when it first hit the big screen.
Nonetheless, Stephen Daldry’s emotional Britflick that documents the gender-transcending ambitions of 11-year-old Billy, from a coal mining village in County Durham, is as marvellous now as it ever was.
Directed again by Daldry, scripted by Lee Hall and featuring music from the pop-maestro Sir Elton John, this creative tour-de-force ensures a seamless transition.
The evocative and emotive power that resonates from the motion picture is evident in the stage from the moment the curtain is pulled, as we see a young Billy Elliot still mourning the death of mother from two years ago. Coming from a coal-mining village in Durham, Billy feels trapped within this male-dominated society, a black sheep among a hardened, unreceptive flock.
Set during the miners’ strike, the seeds of damage sewn by Margaret Thatcher’s government are as powerfully demonstrated here as they are in the film, with a background that underlines the poverty and ruins with which they are defined.
Possibly the easiest – but still brilliantly executed – are the ballet scenes, with outstanding choreography and masterful movements alike.
With dialogue and acting that bleeds both humour and sadness, backed up by a stunning array of songs from Sir Elton John, Billy Elliot more than holds its own against the greatest ever British musicals, giving even the most celebrated Andrew Lloyd-Webber production a run for its money.
Billy Elliot is suitable for children of ages 12 and up.
My verdict: 9/10