Company Theatre’s moving production of “Billy Elliot the Musical” shows that against all odds, destiny has a way of shining through. In chilling, desperate times shine hope and discovery and the Company Theatre’s portrays this stark contrast with intriguing imagery throughout the production. With touching music and lyrics by legendary singer-songwriter Elton John alongside lyricist Lee Hall, this rock musical has indelible humor and heart, a solid cast, and stars Jamie Mann as Billy, who exhibits undeniable star power. Directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, choreography by Sally Forrest, and musical direction by Michael Joseph, the ten-time Tony award-winning musical continues through April 10 at the Company Theatre for the Arts in Norwell, Massachusetts. Click here for more information, show dates, and for tickets.
Part of what is so fascinating about “Billy Elliot the Musical” is it not only depicts such a pivotal chapter in Billy’s life, but hones in all the rage, sweetness, and the tough lessons of growing up set against the peril of UK’s historic Miner’s Strike during the 1980’s. Based on the 2000 film and set in the 1980’s, “Billy Elliot the Musical” is the story of a coal miner’s son who is sent to a boxing class led by Mark Estano, who delivers a tenacious and comical performance as George. At a boxing class, Billy discovers his true passion in a surprising way.
From imaginative, brightly colored dancing props to the blackened city streets flanked with a shiny, chain linked fence seeped in mood-setting multicolored lighting, Billy Elliot’s rolling sets and special effects are impressive, but never outshine the fiery talent onstage. With terrific choreography faithful to the 80’s and packing an emotional punch, “Billy Elliot the Musical” boasts a dynamic, praiseworthy cast of adorable children and adults, all with determined, fighting spirits. At the center of the show is Jamie Mann as quiet but determined Billy Elliot. With a distinct British accent and simply dressed in a jean jacket, athletic gear and sneakers, Mann’s sheer command of the stage is remarkable. Not only does he show emotional depth with every cast member he encounters, but he masters the demanding choreography, navigating from hostile, lunging turns to astounding flips and graceful leaps effortlessly. Billy is a sight to behold. Oliver Trejo as Michael Caffrey gives a wildly entertaining performance. He is irrepressibly charming in every way and he and Billy have a sweet-natured friendship.
Christopher Hagberg delivers a brilliant performance as Dad with a unique combination of humor and stubbornness, forced to consider a difficult decision that may divide his family. Hagberg portrays Dad’s tough exterior with a sharp tongue and a loud grumble which evolves into a complex, deeply emotional performance, especially during the number, “He Could Be a Star.”
Karen Wadland’s sassy, sweet, and at times, unapologetically blunt portrayal as Grandma is a joy to watch, delivering a wealth of belly laughs. An exceptional dance number featuring men in black suits combined with Grandma’s lively, all-too-truthful performance create the sensational number, “Grandma’s Song.” Wadland and Jamie Mann as Billy also have an endearing chemistry.
Noreen MacDonald, dressed in a leopard print coat and multicolored legwarmers, is engaging as Billy’s unflinching mentor, Mrs. Wilkinson. With a powerful belt, she spouts out commands like a sergeant and is endlessly fun to watch with the large kids ensemble in the number, “Shine” and with Billy and Ryan Barrow as Mr. Braithwaite in “Born to Boogie.” Mrs. Wilkinson’s braided daughter Debbie, played by Morgan Benard, is also a hilarious little spitfire. The entire ensemble cast is fascinating whether they are perfecting a pirouette in pink feathers or recreating the brutality of real life events in uniform, especially in the musical’s stirring, signature number, “Solidarity.”
The Company Theatre presents “Billy Elliot the Musical” through Sunday, April 10 at Company Theatre for the Arts, 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts. The Company Theatre features new renovations in their lobby, including a display that sells Alex and Ani-like bracelets that feature charms from past shows at a good price. Click here or call 781-871-2787 for tickets and visit companytheatre.com for upcoming events and more.