Billy Elliot Worth All of Tony’s Gold

13 06 2011

Last Night’s Tony Awards showcased the beauty, brilliance and ballsy history behind our Theatrical world.  As Book of Mormon backed up its 14 nominations with 9 “WINS!” it harped back to this last decade’s record setting productions.  Mel Brook’s amazing THE PRODUCERS is the all-time Tony Award winning Musical with 12 taken home in 2001.  It shares the total nomination title (15 total) with the musical who’s currently playing RIGHT HERE IN DALLAS, Billy Elliot.

The 2010-11 Lexus Broadway Series concludes this upcoming Sunday night with it’s final performance of Billy Elliot.  The play, based on the 2000 run away hit film Directed by Stephen Daldry, opened at London’s West End Theater in 2005 then opened in Australia in 2007 and onto our shores in 2008’s Broadway release.  Featuring haunting music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, choreography by Peter Darling and direction by Stephen Daldry the Billy Elliot Musical has now started its epic tour run.

Last Thursday Evening I was able to witness the brilliant two act musical that takes us on young Billy’s journey to the Royal Ballet School in London.   The tremendous cast and crew completely captivated a packed Winspear Opera House.  Speaking of that cast!

“Casting for the national tour of Billy Elliot the Musical features Tony Award-winner Faith Prince starring as Mrs. Wilkinson along with Giuseppe Bausilio, Ethan Fuller, Kylend Hetherington, Lex Ishimoto, Daniel Russell and J.P. Viernes in the role of ‘Billy.’    Also featured are Rich Hebert (Dad); Patti Perkins (Grandma); Jeff Kready (Tony);  Joel Blum(George); Griffin Birney and Jacob Zelonky (Michael); and Rachel Mracna (Debbie).

Faith Prince (Mrs. Wilkinson) has won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance as Ms. Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. In 2008, she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for A Catered Affair.  Other Broadway credits include The Little Mermaid, Bells Are Ringing (Tony, DD, OCC noms), Nick & Nora (OCC Award), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Tony, DD noms), Little Me, The Dead, Noises Off. She also starred in the world premiere of Terrence McNally’s Unusual Acts of Devotion. TV: Guest starred on Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, Ugly Betty, Medium and CSI. She was a series regular on Showtime’s Huff starring as “Kelly Knippers.” Prince recurred for five seasons on Spin City. Other credits include the self-titled series Faith, Sweet Potato Queens, Grey’s Anatomy, House, Monk, Now and Again, Welcome To New York and Law and Order.  Film: Our Very Own with Allison Janney and Cheryl Hines, Picture Perfect, Dave, and My Father the Hero.  She recently starred in the concert version of Sweeney Todd with the Orlando Philharmonic. Faith’s new CD, Total Faith, has an upcoming release and her CD A Leap Of Faith is available on DRG records.

The Dallas Show had Giuseppe Bausilo as young Billy Elliot.

GIUSEPPE BAUSILIO (Billy), 13, from Bern, Switzerland. ‘Billy’ in Chicago, National Tour and soon to be ‘Billy’ on Broadway. Parents are ballet teachers, brother is a ballet dancer. Trained in ballet, modern, jazz, flamenco, hip-hop, tap. Won dance competitions in Europe and US. Performed in various ballets and operas. Enjoys cooking, skiing, swimming, learning guitar and speaks five languages. Studies kung fu, cello, piano. Sang Anthem for 22,000 at Chicago Fire game.”

Giuseppe was downright incredible starting out as a “confused” beginner and by the end of the show seeming like a super-talent.

RICH HEBERT (Dad) returns to the stage after 4 years of living the “civilian life” of a theater instructor at Bridgewater State University. Hebert was last seen as Commander Khashoggi in the Las Vegas production of We Will Rock You. Broadway and National tours include, the original Broadway companies of The Life, Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables (Bay Area Critics Award), Cats, Saturday Night Fever, and Rock and Roll the First 5000 Years. He starred as Manuel in MTC’s Captains Courageous, Zoser in Elton John’s Elaborate Lives in Atlanta, and Warbucks in Papermill Playhouse’s Annie. TV credits include: Brotherhood, Law and Order SVU, NYPD Blue, The Sopranos, Deadline, Line of Fire, The Oldest Rookie, 21 Jump Street and numerous soap operas. Rich is a graduate of Boston University.” 

Patti Perkins (Grandma) Broadway: Billy Elliot,The Full Monty,Shakespeare’s Cabaret(Tony nominated for Best Score),All Over Town(directed by Dustin Hoffman). Lincoln Center: A Man of No Importance.Off-Broadway venues include The Vineyard Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, The Mint Theater. Regional theaters include The Old Globe, The Guthrie, The Kennedy Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Goodspeed Opera House.”

JEFF KREADY (Tony) Comes directly from playing Tony in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot, where he was also an original cast member.  Other original Broadway companies: Sunday in the Park with George revival, Les Miserables revival (Jean Valjean u/s).  He is a Washburn University grad and  onetime Kansas music teacher.”

Joel Blum (George) is a two-time Tony nominee in the best supporting actor category for the Prince/Stroman Show Boat and for Steel Pier. Other Broadway includes 42nd Street (Original cast), Music Man, A Christmas Carol, Elaine May’s After the Night and the Music, and Stardust. He recently played multiple roles in 101 Dalmatians the Musical, at Madison Square Garden. Joel has toured extensively in: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Doctor Doolittle starring Tommy Tune, (which he co-choreographed with Patti Colombo), …and the World Goes ‘Round, The Debbie Reynolds show, to mention a few. He received a Barrymore award for best supporting actor in Tin Pan Alley Rag, was nominated in the same category for a Helen Hayes award for his work in Meet John Doe at the Fords theater in Washington, D C. Joel has appeared on “Law and Order” twice, “Ed”, the “Sopranos”, Danced on the “Sonny and Cher Show”, two Bob Hope Specials, and the “Tonight Show” Starring Johnny Carson. He has co-written and stars in his one man show about Bob Hope entitled: Hope Eternal.”

“Griffin Birney (Michael), 11, hails from Branford, Connecticut, and last performed at the Goodspeed Opera House in Annie Get Your Gun (Little Jake). Birney studies at the Encore Academy of Dance in Connecticut.”

“Jacob Zelonky (Michael), 12, is from Memphis, Tenn., and has performed in Seussical (JoJo), Narnia (Edmund), and A Christmas Carol the Musical (Tiny Tim).”

“Rachel Mracna (Debbie), 13, is from Pittsburgh, Penn., and recently performed in Oliver, Joseph…, Les Miserables (Young Cosette).

As an epic Miner’s strike is crippling the Northern British towns, a young and motherless Billy Elliot escapes his boxing class and ends up in a Mrs. Wilkinson’s all-girl Ballet Class.  As Billy learns the beginning steps of ballet it comes to the knowledge of his father and brother that he’s not been in Boxing lessons.  The first act showcases the gender inequality and the stereotypical viewpoints of the majority of the community who looks at Billy as “Gay” for his recent ballet lessons.  But the story wouldn’t be complete with out highlighting the tremendous musical numbers that really make Billy Elliot such an epic Musical.

The 16 numbers are spread across the two acts pretty evenly.

Act I
  • The Stars Look Down – Company
  • Shine – Ballet Girls, Mrs. Wilkinson & Mr Braithwaite
  • Grandma’s song – Grandma
  • Solidarity – Ballet Girls, Billy, Mrs. Wilkinson, Miners & Police
  • Expressing Yourself – Billy, Michael, and Ensemble
  • The Letter (Mum’s Letter) – Mrs. Wilkinson, Mum and Billy
  • Born to Boogie – Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy, and Mr. Braithwaite
  • Angry Dance -Billy & Male Ensemble
Act II
  • Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher – Tony and Partiers (USA productions-George, Billy/Michael/Tall Boy/Small Boy, Ballet Girls & Adult Cast)
  • Deep Into the Ground – Jackie
  • Swan Lake – Billy and Billy Older Self
  • He Could be a Star (He Could Go and He Could Shine – USA) – Jackie and Tony
  • Electricity – Billy
  • Once We Were Kings – Company
  • The Letter – Reprise (Billy’s Reply) – Mum and Billy
  • Finale – Company

It would take up to much time and spoil to much to talk about each number.  So I’d rather point out two pieces from each act that really stood out on the Shannon and Ted Skokos Stage.

The first act is all about showing the sad stereotypes of the town and Grandma’s Song really stands out for it gives us the first breath of fresh air.  Grandma tells lil Billy all about her “marriage” and it isn’t the cute stories of happiness but a raucous rant about how ANGRY she is that she did get hitched.  Seeing Patti Perkins drop a few curse words and break out a timely middle finger had me more amped up then any play or musical I’ve seen.  I mean is there anything more striking and kick ass then an old Grandma flicking off EVERYONE!  I don’t think so!

But the first act number that can’t get out of my head is the rowdy SOLIDARITY that follows Grandma’s middle finger salute.

I spent the whole weekend trying to get SOL-I-DAR-ITY out of my mind.  I was singing it while driving and singing it in my sleep even.  Its so amazing to witness the police and ballet girls fly all over the stage.  Stunning is the only word that comes to mind when thinking about it.

Act Two opens up with the one number with a GIANT ASS Puppet of Maggie Thatcher (Boy these Miners sure don’t like her!).  I don’t want to spoil the visual since it really engulfs the stage, but the first number “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher” is worth ever blink of your eye.  You don’t want to miss it!

The song though that I think hits you in the gut the most and really makes your eyes get all teary-like is The Letter – Reprise (Billy’s Reply).  It starts out cute and soft, but then tugs at all your heart’s strings.  Its simply the most moving scene of the entire Musical and I couldn’t see a dry eye across the orchestra pit!

More info about the Musical’s Tour, Here.

Dallas Tickets available, here.

And for more info on the Tony Awards click, here.

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