November 25, 2008

Born to Boogie

Pinky was back in town for the weekend so we met Mike in the city and watched Billy Elliot again...thanks director Stephen Daldry for our complimentary do-over! (No technical difficulties this time, although everytime there was a set change, I involuntarily held my breath.)

With the economy going further down the toilet, and we hear about people losing jobs, whole communities in danger of disappearing, the show has even more resonance. Carole Shelley is as funny as ever. Gregory Jbara has really settled nicely into his role as Billy's conflicted father. His performance this time was more comedic, more physical, especially in the second act. Haydn Gwynne as broken-down-by-life dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson is solid. Her scenes with Billy are always poignant.
I think this is Matthew Mindler, who played small boy. His mom said it was his birthday. He was holding some birthday money in his hand. Other kids kept coming up to him to give him more cash.
One of the ballet girls, I think this is Erin Whyland.
The other Michael, David Bologna
What the hell's wrong with expressing yourself...that number is always a crowd-pleaser.
The wonderful and talented David Alvarez. The more I thought it over, the more I liked Mr. Alvarez' overall performance better. There I said it! Maybe because there were no show interruptions this time. I don't know. Mr. Kiril Kulish is an amazing dancer and a slightly better singer. His ability to maintain his focus despite of the technical problems is a testament to his terrific talent and professionalism. But maybe it was David's acting that won me over, disappearing accent notwithstanding. Give the boy a break. It's hard enough to do any accent, much less a Geordie one. But Kiril's Billy is smiling and confident. David's is more tentative, more awkward, shy, even ambivalent about his talent. Perhaps afraid to get his hopes up. Or fear of the very real possibility of his leaving home. But everytime he danced (and he is an excellent dancer), he would come alive, his 'dancing boy' spirit soaring. In this Obama era, it's fitting that a Cuban-French-Canadian boy is a Billy Elliot.What a treat to see these superb boys and girls! The Swan Lake scene always makes me weep. It was great to see the finale this time, and that's one unique curtain call. Ben Brantley said the finale is overdone, but I say it's par for an Elton John course. It is a joyous end to an uplifting show. I was alternately laughing, crying, cheering during the show. This is probably one show you can keep watching over and over. (It would be nice to see Trent Kowalik's performance also.) Maybe this trio will get a three-way Tony for Best Actor next year. (*keeps fingers crossed*)

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