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Theatre Review: Billy Elliot - Edinburgh Playhouse ✭✭✭✭✭

Review by Ellen Cree

Billy Elliot is the heartwarming tale of a young, hopeful ballet dancer. The story takes place in county Durham in 1984s amidst the miners strikes under Margaret Thatcher’s government. Young Billy (Lewis Smallman) starts off attending boxing lessons in the beginning, however, after turning up late one day and being told to stay and practice alone, Billy finds himself accidentally taking part in an all girls ballet class. The class includes the loud, cheeky Debbie Wilkinson (Evie Martin), and is taught by her strong but sassy mother Mrs. Wilkinson (Annette McLaughlin). Over time, Billy finds himself attending ballet each week, something he keeps secret from his father Jackie (Martin Walsh), older brother Tony (Scott Garnham) and his dear Grandma (Andrea Miller). In a community that is growing increasingly poor due to the miner strikes, Jackie finds himself going against the union and returning to work to fund Billy after realising how talented his son truly is. The end of the performance plays with the audience's emotions as we see Billy receive his acceptance letter as well as Jackie, Tony and all the other miners being forced to return to work.

The aspect of Billy Elliot that is the most special is that it is a musical that it doesn't confine to the norm. It beautifully celebrates being different, and this is one of the reasons that it is one of my all time favourite musicals. I had previously seen the show in 2011 during its famous run in London’s West End, and this cast and their performances certainly lived up to my previous experience. One of the highlights of  this show is the broad range of emotions the audience experiences. Numbers such as Expressing Yourself, Born to Boogie and Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher have the audience in fits of laughter while songs including The Letter and He Could Be A Star will leave the audience in tears. The iconic numbers that include Solidarity and Electricity also stand out.

All the cast, both principal and supporting are incredible, but all the children in particular are out of this world. From Billy, Michael and Debbie to the group of girls who play the hilarious ballerinas, all of them had made me annoyed that I hadn’t stuck with ballet when I was a lot younger! Another performer that definitely needs to be mentioned for his jaw dropping dance skills is Luke Cinque-White who plays Billy’s older self.

Billy Elliot is a must see in Edinburgh, not just for this season, but for the whole of 2016. The musical has something for everyone as it includes a lot of history, hilarity and heart wrenching moments. Everyone should make sure that bagging themselves a ticket for Billy Elliot is at the top of their to-do list.

Billy Elliot is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 1st October. for tickets and information visit the Edinburgh Playhouse website.

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