Billy Elliot The Musical at Mayflower Theatre

Thursday 9 February 2017

Visiting the theatre is something I've grown to love recently. Thanks to Mayflower Theatre*, little groups of us have been able to come and fall in love with the theatre experience all over again. Alice who runs SotonBloggers has teamed up with the guys over at The Mayflower Theatre to give us lucky lot a new experience with blogging. Yes the usual blog events are fun, but it's always nice to throw something in to mix it up. We all get to meet before hand, have something to eat, a catch up and chat about the production we're about to see. It's always fun to go with a mixed group because you can guarantee there's people that have seen the movie or read the book, or be like me and never watched or read anything to do with the production before. I was going to watch the movie, but a friend of mine that is very involved in theatre production told me the movie isn't as good as the production. So I decided to go in blind and enjoy the theatre production.

If like me, you have no idea what Billy Elliot is about, here's a little breakdown: It's set in a Northern mining town in the 1980s miners strike. The journey takes Billy out of the boxing ring and into the world of ballet, it turns into a real passion which then inspires people around him and changes his life. Sounds like a real strong story line right?

Billy Elliot the Musical is visiting The Mayflower Theatre as part of its extensive UK tour, it's a multi award winning musical production, seen by nearly 11 million people across 5 continents and loved across the globe. The musical is brought to life by an award winning creative team including, writer Lee Hall, director Stephen Daldry along with associate director Julian Webber and choreographer Peter Darling. The shows score was even composed by Elton John. We got to see the shows scenic design by Ian MacNeil and costume design by Nicky Gillibrand. Then we have Rick Fisher and Paul Arditti showing their lighting and sound skills. All topped off with musical supervision and orchestrations by Martin Koch. Sounds like a good bunch to have behind the scenes doesn't it?

The musical is presented by Universal Stage Productions, Working Title Films and Old Vic Productions based on the Universal Pictures/Studio Canal Film. There's 4 directors behind the production and 2 executive producers. All in all it sounded like a massive production with a lot of people working their magic to make it just as great as it sounds in writing.

I can honestly say that this has been my favourite musical production I've seen at the Mayflower Theatre so far. All the characters were so strong. You were able to watch their relationships grow through out the story line. The singing and dancing was perfect, not once did my eye wonder away from the stage.

Billy was played by Emile Gooding on the night we visited, and he absolutely owned the role, took us through the story with him, made us laugh and cry. Emile & Annette McLaughlin paired together so well. We were able to see the relationship between Billy and Mrs Wilkinson blossom, watched the passion for dance grow and their bond get stronger. Watching Annette and Martin Walsh, who played Dad, argue out of love for him really portrayed what a special little boy Billy was. And to see 'Dad' soften to the fact his little boy wanted to be a dancer rather than a boxer was so nice to see.

I think the main thing that got most of us giggling, was the amount of swearing all the young boys and girls were blurting out. I mean, how often do you see an innocent little girl in a tutu shouting 'wanker' at someone? There was the odd thing thrown in there that made me think 'why is this little one saying that?' but what's funnier than a child saying something massively inappropriate?

Some of the big numbers were mesmerising, specially Billy dancing with his older self so beautifully, and some how managing to be spun around on a cable and not be sick? I couldn't do it. And the sparkly back drops that came down for the numbers just made it that little extra big and memorable. Although..giant Margaret Thatcher  is something I do not want appearing in my nightmares. For me, I think the most touching scenes were the ones that featured Nikki Gerrard playing 'Dead Mum'. Billy clearly missed her dearly and still spoke to her even though she wasn't really there. Tears. Every. Scene.

As much as everyone was fantastic, Grandma, played by Andrea Miller was a favourite of mine. Her careless attitude, speaking her mind and sassy musical numbers with the middle finger waving around killed me. And all the little ballet dancers that were so far from being perfectly poised and elegant got a laugh or two, but when it was time for them to dance, my god they did it well! To see the whole cast at the end, Male and Female in their tutu's, was the perfect way to end and show the unity Billy brought to their community, the room filled with a well deserved standing ovation.

If you haven't already been to see Billy Elliot I would seriously book yourself some tickets. Playing at the Mayflower until 4th March.

Thank you once again to everyone at the Mayflower Theatre for having us, and to Alice for giving us these fantastic experiences.
Emily-May x

* Complementary experience  

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