3rd Anniversary Performance of Billy Elliot
"Billy Elliot" was supposed to be the next mega-hit. Oh sure, it played to sell-out crowds for a while and received rave reviews and plenty of Tony Awards, including Best Musical over "Next to Normal." But for at least a year now, "Billy Elliot" has underperformed, at least compared to the original expectations. We can all speculate why: Was the show too English? Too profane? Was it not marketed well? Will there be no more West End transfers with never-ending runs? Or, perhaps, was it too special? This is a gritty, socially realistic, emotionally powerful musical that Broadway was all the luckier to have.
Most of the crowd attending Tuesday night must have had no clue that they were about to see the show's third anniversary performance. Before it began, director Stephen Daldry took the stage and noted that the three original boys (now adolescent teens) who played Billy Elliot - David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish - would appear at curtain call.
It's a pleasure to report that the show remains in mint condition. Tade Biesinger, one of the four boys currently alternating as Billy Elliot, gave the most well-acted performance of the role I've yet to see. After appearing inhibited and trapped, he embraced the freedom he felt in the midst of dancing more and more as the show went along - finally exploding in ecstasy in "Electricity." Emily Skinner was also great as Mrs. Wilkinson, presenting a warmer side of a character who became a surrogate mother to Billy Elliot.
The show's brilliant, gender-bending finale is a celebration of how life ought to be - of joy - of together- of how the arts can bring out the best in us. Having the three original Billy Elliots cap it off was a fantastic touch to what was already a strong performance.
You've got until January 8, 2012 to catch "Billy Elliot" before that finale is just a memory.
The after party was held at Sardi's. Got to share an elevator with Emily Skinner!