Billy Elliot is the story of a boy in a mining town, who after stumbling across a ballet class, discovers his desire and proclivity for ballet. It takes place during the 1984 mineworker's union strike in England. Beyond the pressures of the miner's strike, Billy and the rest of his family are also struggling with the recent death of Billy's mother. Michael, Billy's best friend, is also exploring his identity as gay individual who like to dress up in women's clothing.
The movie that the musical was based on is rated R and so there might be some question as to why Children's Castle Theater, a youth focused intergenerational community theater would put on such a show. But this is addressed wonderfully in the Director's note by Kayla Yaeger. She writes, "Billy Elliot is, in some ways, today's Charlotte's Web for preteen children in that it shines a spotlight on seldom discussed themes that surround us every day." She expands on this thought, and if you are interested in seeing the show I suggest that you read the full director's note here.
This production has a wonderfully versatile set designed by Gordy Schmidt. The town's community center serves as the back drop, but other set pieces fold out or roll on stage to transform the space. The stage becomes Billy's bedroom, Michael's house and even a public restroom. The costumes, designed by Janel Schmidt also properly set us in the time. The stand out costumes are those belonging to the dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson.
In this production Children's Castle Theater partnered with Ballet Royale MN. This was apparent in the choreography. The Dream Ballet choreographed by Rick Vogt was wonderfully performed by Gavin Nienaber who played Billy Elliot and Luke Perkins who played older Billy.
It was a pleasure to see this production. It was clear that all of those involved were having a lot of fun.
Billy Elliot is being currently performed at the Lakeville Arts Center until October 23rd.
Thank you to Children's Castle Theater for inviting me to this production.