Billy Elliot: The Musical
Music by: Elton John
Lyrics By: Lee Hall
Produced By: Decca Broadway
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In 2000, the tale of Billy Elliot hit the big screen amidst rave reviews. The story, set in northeast England in the mid 1980s, centers around an 11-year-old boy who dreams of winning a spot at the Royal Ballet School, much to the chagrin of his miner father. In 2007, a musical based version of Billy Elliot will open on Broadway. It is already being hailed as “The Greatest British Musical” by The London Telegraph and “The first musical since Rent to exert such a complete emotional hold on its audience” by The New York Times.
The combination of lyrics by Lee Hall and music composed by Elton John is phenomenal. The listener often finds himself tapping his foot to the upbeat tunes. The vocals of the cast are well-suited to one another. When they combine on such songs as The Stars Look Down and Once We Were Kings, the effect is breathtakingly moving. As in all musicals, the songs tell the tale and the soundtrack of Billy Elliot: The Musical is no exception. Lee Hall is brilliant in his creation of lyrics that clearly and completely represent the emotional tidal wave Billy Elliot is swept through while endeavoring to achieve his dream. The angst felt by a young boy who has lost his mother and whose family is involved in the miner strike of the ‘80s, is clearly portrayed. The father’s love for his son, despite what he believes is an oddity, is apparent in the tune He Could Be A Star.
Although there is a great deal of sadness and strife in the musical, Billy Elliot is not without its comical moments. Songs like Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher in which the striking miners tell the members of the government just what they think of them, Grandma’s Song which is a mixture of hardship, romance, and comedy, and the dance class comedic song Shine, bring the levity necessary to keep the musical from falling into a pit of sorrow.As a bonus to an already amazing soundtrack, Decca Broadway includes a bonus CD with this soundtrack. On the bonus CD, Elton John performs three songs from the original soundtrack: The Letter, Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher, and Electricity. Quite honestly, this reviewer feels that the songs were better performed by the original cast. Not to say that Elton John does not do an exceptional job with them, but the songs are better suited for the vocal talents of the cast members. For example, Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher, while fun and enjoyable when sung by Elton John, has more of an impact when sung by the full cast.
If the soundtrack of Billy Elliot: The Musical is any indication, Broadway will have found another hit when the musical opens in 2007. The soundtrack is definitely a recommended addition to the library of any Broadway musical aficionado.