Theatre Review: Billy Elliot – The Musical @ Ahambra Theatre, Bradford – ‘fresh and inspiring’

'Photo: Alastair Muir
‘Photo: Alastair Muir

Of course we all know the story of Billy Elliot, don’t we? A young lad from a mining community who accidentally discovers he can dance, and the rest, as they say, is history!

The stage show, however, is something different. Right from the beginning you are captivated by a feast of dance, music (by Elton John) and drama. The show opens with a small boy coming onstage with a large radio, and he does a small dance. From there the story unfolds of Billy discovering his ability to dance, and the conflict that this causes both within his family and community.

Alongside the story of Billy, is the background of political unrest during the miners’ strike. The miners’ union was determined to bring Thatcher’s government down, and save the pits. The depiction of the solidarity of the miners, the poverty experienced by the families as the strike continued, and the reaction of miner against miner as some decided to return to work was beautifully acted and danced. The scene of the police riots was loud and frightening.

Throughout the show there were parts of pure genius: the Christmas show at the Community Club was hilarious; the Swan Lake dance of Billy and Billy’s older self, inspirational. Billy Elliott The Musical managed to capture the essence of the 1980’s, from the props, clothing, attitudes and language, and to tell the story in a fresh and inspiring way.

Reviewed by Sally Freer on 11th May 2016 at Alhambra Theatre, Bradford where it runs until 11 June and touring see