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Billy Elliot, the Musical

Yesterday I went to Billy Elliot, the musical of the movie.

Billy Elliot

Which I have to say was very enjoyable, in an emotionally manipulative kind of way. The little kid with a poignant letter from his dead mother, who wants to be a ballet dancer despite coming from a northern town in the process of being torn apart by the miners’ strike, the gruff miners with hearts of gold – no heartstring was left untugged. Tunes by Elton John, who’s also not afraid to lay the emotion on with a trowel.

But sometimes that’s quite nice. And it was leavened by lots of high-energy dancing and plenty of good jokes.

I’m obviously just too literal minded for my own good, though, because I never entirely stopped finding it ever so slightly odd that the actor playing Billy was a different race to his parents. He was very good, mind you, particularly at the tap dancing. They actually have five actors playing Billy in rotation to prevent them burning out, one of whom – Matthew Koone – is Asian. It wasn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of the show or anything, but I was always slightly aware of it somehow.

But then the whole business of ‘believing’ what we see on the stage, and what we mean by that, is peculiar and subtle. It wasn’t like the show was unremittingly realist – we’re talking about chorus lines of picketing miners here – so why one detail niggles and another doesn’t… I think I might be overanalysing at this point.