Sunday, June 16, 2013
"BILLY ELLIOT:" PIROUETTES INTO THE BUSHNELL
What do Elton John, a coal miners' strike, a set of boxing gloves, a pair of ballet shoes and a motherless eleven year old boy from County Durham, England have in common? They are all the main ingredients in the exciting musical sensation "Billy Elliot the Musical" that pirouettes into Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, June 18 to Sunday, June 23.
Written by Lee Hall with music by Elton John, "Billy Elliot The Musical" is based on the 2000 film and has won ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical in each. It is set in1984 just as a coal miners' strike begins in the United Kingdom, an economic disaster blamed on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
A young Billy Elliot has just completed a boxing lesson but upon seeing a ballet class, led by Mrs. Wilkinson, is fascinated by the graceful dance. Despite being the only boy present, he is encouraged by the teacher to find his form and is quickly drawn in the beauty of the art. Only his grandmother, who once long ago hoped to dance herself, knows his secret.
His father Jackie and brother Tony are caught up in the violent conflict of the strike and clash with the police while Billy finds a special peace through ballet. Mrs. Wilkinson recognizes his natural talents and fosters the hope that Billy audition for the prestigious Royal Ballet School.
An incredible score includes such stirring numbers as "The Stars Look Down," "Shine," "Expressing Yourself," "Born to Boogie," Swan Lake" and "Electricity." How Billy deals with his passion and his family's disapproval, against the backdrop of the virullent miners' strike, makes a moving and dramatic production.
For tickets ($20-95), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at www.bushnell.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Composer Elton John has commented on his website his reaction to seeing the film at the Cannes Film Festival back in the year 2000. "My response to the film was profound. The story of young Billy, a gifted working class boy with artistic ambitions seemingly beyond his reach, had so many parallels to my own childhood...It was the unfailing support of my mother and grandmother that helped me achieve my ambitions. With their encouragement and a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music,I started building a foundation that has allowed me to rejoice in a musical career that has exceeded my wildest dreams. To see Billy literally dance his way out of the bleak and cruel environment created by the British mining industry's demise was inspirational."
Follow a young Billy Elliot and his blue collar family discover how a passion for ballet changes and inspires an entire community and helps them all soar upward.