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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Tony-award winner 'Billy Elliot' transcends boundaries

By Tatiana Craine

There are a number of ways to describe “Billy Elliot.” At it’s core, it’s about following your dreams. But it’s also about ballet. And family. And class. And testing the bounds of heteronormativity in an environment less than accepting. The 2000 film, written by playwright Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry, chronicles the adolescent struggles that Billy Elliot goes through during the 1984-1985 miners’ strike in a small town in County Durham, UK. The 2005 musical that premiered in London’s famed West End followed suit and eventually travelled across the Atlantic to a monumental premiere on Broadway in 2008.

Since its Broadway debut, critics and audiences alike have been raving about “Billy Elliot.” Winner of ten Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Musical, “Billy Elliot” has garnered praise from the New York Times, the Daily News and the New York Observer among countless others. Even hailed as the “Best Musical of the Decade,” the show certainly has a lot to live up to, but it delivers all the love, laughs, tears and inspiration of a sensational show bound to become a worldwide classic.

With such a high-caliber team behind the production, it’s not hard to see why there’s such hype for the musical about a boy that just wants to dance. With Lee Hall’s book and lyrics and Stephen Daldry’s directorial genius, the heartfelt vision behind the film translated well to stage. Add a winner of five Grammys, a Tony Award, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe as the show’s composer, and you’ve got a solid-gold musical on your hands. Sir Elton John is no stranger to the Broadway stage. After working on the 1998 stage-version of “The Lion King” and “Aida” in 1999, John is back again as the composer for “Billy Elliot.”

More than just a musical about a young boy’s difficulties in pursuing his passion, “Billy Elliot” addresses some of the fundamental issues in the UK during the devastating miner’s strikes. Aside from the obvious economic and social-class differences and resulting dificulties in the town, the characters struggle with identity, and what side to take in the strike. The choice between standing up for rights versus making money for family becomes necessary, however painful. Additionally, the town’s traditional views of masculinity are challenged when Billy begins taking ballet classes (instead of boxing) and his best friend becomes more cognizant about his sexual orientation.

“Billy Elliot” boasts an incredibly strong and talented cast that truly brings these characters’ aspirations and struggles to life in a musical that goes beyond the same old song and dance, transcending the gap between musical theater and real life.

“Billy Elliot” opens at the Orpheum Theatre on Dec. 16 and runs through Jan. 9. For tickets and showtimes, visit:

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