I thought I’d do a series for the magazine of my top 5 classic shows that I think everyone should see. I’m going to start with Billy Elliot and try to explain exactly why Billy Elliot (London) remains one of the best choices for theatre breaks.
Billy Elliot London
Billy Elliot the musical started in London in 2005 at the Victoria Palace Theatre. It was based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot with a book by Lee Hall (who wrote the original screen play) and music by Sir Elton John. The film was a hard act to follow. Everyone remembered Julie Walters as the ballet teacher and Gary Lewis as Billy’s coal mining father and it was tricky to see how Billy could ever become a musical. Despite any worries the show was an instant hit with both the public and the critics and it has remained so ever since.
The Story of Billy and of the Miners Strike
Billy Elliot is a young boy who develops a passion for ballet growing up in County Durham in the early 1980s at the time of the miners’ strike. It’s quite strange to see a time I vividly remember portrayed on the stage and they do play slightly with the chronology of events. You really don’t need to know the history of the miners strike to appreciate the show. Your emotions and sympathies are guided through the passage of the story and in some ways knowing too much about the real events of the time can get in the way.
It is interesting to note that two of the best loved musicals on in London at the moment both have their origins in Northern working class sensibilities (Billy and Blood Brothers). Both shows focus on the warmth and humour of the North but neither shies away from some fairly grim aspects. The musical show tells the human story of Billy and his family with great compassion and clarity. I’m not going to go into the plot in great depth here as there may be some people (from Mars?) who don’t already know the story. suffice it to say the story is moving and entertaining.
The music is stunning. Elton John was definitely on top form when he wrote this and it’s really hard to pick out one or two numbers to share with you. So I decided to go for this medley to give you a flavour of the show:
The role of Billy Elliot is hugely demanding of young actors. Billy has to be between 9 and 13 years old, 5′ or less, a terrific dancer and have a beautiful unbroken voice. To find one boy like that would not be easy but the role is actually shared between at least 3 or 4 Billy Elliots. This allows the boys to work within the UK legislation regarding child actors. Whilst there are several children in West End shows at the moment few carry the weight of the show in the same way that the child who plays Billy must.
Hotels for Billy Elliot
Seats at Billy Elliot London
When you book with some agencies they will give you quite a wide range of seating options. It is often the case that you get what you pay for with these deals, lowest cost seats will be further away from the action. Having said that it would be very unusual for the theatre break package companies to offer tickets with a restricted view without telling you in advance. Other agencies offer a choice of top seats ( in the stalls or dress circle) or best available seats (stalls, dress circle, or upper circle). The upper circle is known as the grand circle in the Victoria Palace Theatre.
The Victoria Palace is an old theatre and my recommended seats are undoubtedly those in the middle of the stalls as they offer the most leg room, a good view and good value for money.
So there you go, a quick guide to Billy Elliot, London, an ever popular choice for theatre breaks. You can click through to read more about Billy Elliot London