Billy Elliot the Musical

Critics' choice
© Alastair Muir
© Alastair Muir
© Alastair Muir
© Alastair Muir
© Alastair Muir
© Alastair Muir
© Alastair Muir
© Alastair Muir
Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria Until Saturday December 19 2015
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Current cast features Harris Beattie, Harrison Dowzel, Redmand Rance and Kaine Ward as Billy.

A decade years after it first stamped, swore, and pirouetted into audiences' hearts, 'Billy Elliot the Musical' continues to mark itself out as one of the best nights in town. Both as tough as a miner's fist after a Friday night booze-up and as soaringly sensitive as one of Tchaikovsky's swans, it's a gritty story of hope that works its magic by defying sentimentality and slaying stereotypes.

Book writer Lee Hall has displayed a talent for comedy that has been noted by critics ever since he hit the radio airwaves with the less successful, but darkly Ortonesque 'Cooking With Elvis' in 1995.

By taking the miners' strike as the backdrop to Billy's tale, he taps into a period of history that powerfully resonates as the last great iconic clash between left and right in British politics.

What works so beautifully in 'Billy Elliot the Musical' is the miners' staunch embodiment of grimy-faced beer -without-frills masculinity – as threatened by the 12-year-old Billy's 'effeminate' attempts to express himself as a dancer, as they are by the rapacious, gorgon-style femininity of Thatcher. Hall and director Stephen Daldry exploit the gender clash to the full, both verbally and visually: so whether you're laughing at foul-mouthed ballerinas or miners in tutus, this is a glorious comedy – and near-tragedy – of dissonant values and shifting perceptions.

It was Jamie Bell, of course, who so successfully captured the popular imagination in the 2000 'Billy Elliot' film. Now, the myriad practicalities of staging the story of the motherless miner's son whose priorities go from pasties to pas de deux mean there must be several Billies. On the night I went, Dean Charles Chapman showed triumphantly that this is not a process of diminishing returns. As solemnly beautiful as a medieval knight, he brought both streetwise punch and the precision of a true professional both to his performance and the dance routines.

A good musical demands great stage pictures, and 'Billy Elliot' is full of them. The extraordinary, starkly lit ballet of men with wooden chairs, cigarettes, and pint glasses, as his dementia-ridden grandmother serenades Billy's 'bastard' of a dead grandfather; the devastating scene where a frustrated Billy smashes a tap dance against an advancing phalanx of darkly glinting police riot shields.

The theatre poster cliché is 'I laughed, I cried' – here you really do. Elton John's music – despite having no stand-out numbers – sensitively underscores a thrilling, devastating evening.

Venue name: Victoria Palace Theatre
Address: 126 Victoria Street
Transport: Victoria tube/rail
Event phone: 020 7907 7071

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:49
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
2 people listening
Jerry c

I must admit that Billy Elliott would not ordinarily have been my first choice of a musical. I am not a big fan of ballet dancing and was not too bothered by the film. However, being a dutiful husband I accompanied my wife and was glad I did. The show as you would expect followed the storyline of the film. The child performers in particular were excellent and the dancing simply astounding. By the end of it I was hooked and would certainly see again. The humour came across very well and was even added to by some of the accents; I am reminded in particular of the dance teacher who seemed to go from Geordie, to Scot back to Geordie and then into Irish. I am sure this is a difficult task and one I could never manage.

Overall a wonderful performance that had me mesmerized and on occasions brought me out ingoosebumps.



Mag D

At Billy Elliot now and let me be clear it's not a family show and timeout should be more explicit in its recommendations!

The language is foul bad swearing not for the family class A swear words used!

The F word the T word all used avoid this show with children!

Michelle P

Absolutely fantastic! I highly recommend it. The best performance I have seen in some time!!!!

Tanya B

was expecting to have a hard time understanding the English, but the play is so well directed, you can't miss a thing.

amusing, moving, funny - it has it all, including fabulous dancing by Billy Elliot, and all the other children.

you can see they are all very talented.

three hours flew past...

highly recommended!

Superstar Donkey Jockey
Staff Writer

Harder hitting than you might think. Lots about the miners' strike, social hardship and family strains. Much more than just a boy dancing. Like Kes it is his escape from the problems around him, plus he's damn good.

laura f

Fantastic... I laughed, I cried, I was deeply moved and enjoyed every minute of the show! The work of the cast is brilliant! The children are INCREDIBLE! Thank you, thank you all for this unforgettable experience!


"My new favourite musical"

I have just returned from my trip to London and Billy Elliot was definitely one of the highlights of my stay. In my opinion, the boy who played Billy is a genius. The night I saw the show it was Bradly Perret, only 11 years old (I had to look him up on the internet straight away when I came home). Professional dancing/ballet, singing and remembering the lines of all those beautiful songs. Chapeau, Bradley!!! It was a very touching and highly entertaining evening for me. The whole cast did a great job, thanks to all of you! The powerful sound of the show and the intoxicating song "Solidarity" is still in my ears, I will definitely buy it :-)

Allowedly, for me as a German the dialect which was spoken was hard to understand at times although I had learned the language for many, many years. I would say that I understood around 2 thirds of what was said, but that was ok. You still get the meaning of what is going on even when you do not understand every joke. All those lines concerning politics and Maggie Thatcher are probably better suited for the UK visitors, but so what, this was all part of the miner´s strike, wasn´t it?

Anyhow, I can highly recommend the musical to everyone who is looking for an unforgettable evening! If you want to laugh and cry at the same time then go, go, go and see it!


My favourite scene was when Billy got truly mad and angry when his father denied him going to that school first, yelling and running around like crazy. Incredible how he let it all out. Just imagine doing that yourself, in front of an audience on top of it - wow!

Terry E

Living in London you often say "oh I must go and see XY or Z" but somehow never get around to it.  This was me with Billy Eliot, not even seen the film.  However, I finally got around to it this weekend and what an absolute knockout it is.

The basic story is set during the infamous miner's strike of 84/85 when a young male sprog from Durham decides he doesn't fancy boxing but instead wants to give dancing a go.  Sounds simple, but the interplay of the ever nastier strike and Billy's secret dance lessons work well to explain so much about the people of that time and how that strike affected so many both directly and indirectly.

So, what to say about the show itself?  Absolutely marvelous.  Billy is a 12 year old boy and the young actor playing him has the entire show on his shoulders.  On stage for virtually the entire performance, Billy displays amazing talent in taking us through his story using a combination of song, dance and language that would have got me a slap form me Mum if I had used it at that age.  

The stage itself is well used with scenery popping up or in from all over the place but only when its needed and never as a gimmick - unlike Dirty Dancing - and with scene changes so smooth that it feels really natural when Billy's house and bedroom turn into the Miner's social club and vice versa.

Favourite scenes for me? A few immediately spring to mind.  The unexpected and magical sequence in Act II where Billy dances scenes from Swan Lake with his older self is just amazing with the two dancers working together so well to create a flawless performance worthy of any ballet company.  Others classics, the scenes between Billy and Michael are so lovely, as the friends are growing up and discovering who they are culminating in a wonderful song about individuality.   Two more massive scenes, "The Angry Dance" where the power of Billy's emotions scream out from the stage to the audience sharing his emotions and, probably the most famous song "Electricity" which I'm sure could be the anthem for many professional dancers when asked how they feel when the dance.

Its easy to forget the adult actors when thinking about BE but they must have one of the hardest jobs in theatre-land.  They say never work with animals and children but these guys don't just work with the kids - of whom there are quite a number - but they change the leading man and other main characters every performance just to make things a bit more difficult.  So, full credit to everyone involved in keeping the production as slick as it is.  

Final word from me on this.  Although they are booking until May 2015, Day tickets are available and you can get amazing seats for a small outlay.  

Avantika G

Waste of 3 hours - acting was mediocre, technical glitch in between, and the final and most impactful scene from the film isn't even included. Ending is a complete anticlimax. Found it quite painful to be honest.

Lauren S

Amazing!!!! The cast is absolutely fantastic- the children are so talented! Great story line, music, dancing and production! I wondered how they would stage the miners strikes but they did it wonderfully by juxtaposing the strikes against the ballet classes. You won't know what I mean unless you go and see it!


It is really inspiring!!! I really enjoyed it. The kids are so brilliant. I will recommend it to my friends. 

Dennis White

Fabulous. Fantastic range of talent from all the cast, from the singing and dancing to the authentic geordie accents.


never could imagine I'd like the musical better than the movie. Outstanding just perfect! the kids were amazing and the scenario is just ideal for the show! Couldn't enjoy more

Norma Ayvazian

Outstanding! Loved it! One of the best I have ever seen. Laughed and cried at the same time. Excellent performance from all the artists and a huge "well done" to Billy performed by the so cute boy named Mitchell Tobin. Definitely a must see!

Carolina Feijó

I love Billy Elliot story, but having seen it in this production made me cry and laugh histerically all the play...The Elton John songs and the Elliot Hannah performance are absolutely enchanting. The boy is the cutest boy in the world, sharing the scenes with his fantastic Dad Deka Walmsley and his amazing teacher Anna Jane Casey. I don´t know how the cast could be so touch provoking like this...Write this review makes me remember and cry again!!!!!!


Excellent - we loved it! The kids were brilliant, music fantastic & it's a great story with lots of comedy to boot. We went for a special birthday celebration & it was perfect!


This musical was amazing. The actors danced and singed very well! I laughed, I also cried. The music, the rythm was really brillant. I will see this again! I recommend!


Fantastic! We enjoyed ourselves for the full 3 hours! Dance, music, singing, play was amazing.

Maria Paldanius

I can not find words to describe this theater experience. I have seen many plays and musicals in London and elsewhere, and I can honestly tell that this was ultimately the best I have ever seen. I was laughing and crying in turns and my heart was bursting throughout the show. The rhythm, pace and scene-structure of this musical was exceptionally perfect and there was no single scene which would have bored me or been too long. Timing was perfect in terms of songs, monologues, dialogues, dances etc. and something surprising happened when you least expected it and when you did not yet expect it to happen. I also, especially, loved the progress of this musical; Billy developed very very slowly and the best parts of his dance happened only closer to the end. This kept the audience at excitement from the beginning til the end. Summary: An excellent show with amazing actors and actresses (where did you find these children from???), perfect costume design, lightning, musics and special effects. The stage had been built amazingly well and the space used very efficiently. This was a pleasure for all five senses --and I think I actually discovered my sixth sense as well, so impressed I was of this spectacle. :)


I was very much impressed about the performance of such a player who is so young. He was on the stage almost through out the whole play, sang, danced and acted, without any mistake... And it was very amazing the contribution of other young players, at a very high level of professionalism and disipline. From the first scene to the end, I enjoyed and watched without any bore. It was first time in my life watching a performance of such young artists.. Recommend it to everybody.


BRILLIANT !!!! the artists at their best...a must see! you leave the show dancing on the streets !!!


I've seen several musicals in London, and this one comes in my top 2! Brilliant entertainment!

Anne Gray

A fine musical capturing the passion and feeling during the miners strike. The story telling, the singing , dancing , scenery and humour all gave to a wonderful evening that everyone should experience. Exceeded all expectations.

Chantelle Smith

Highly recommend this musical to anyone!, I took my mum and dad for their birthday and they thought it was amazing!, The singing is lovely and puts you in a good mood!


Loved it! While some shows are all about the staging, this was about the script, the dancing, the theatre. 'Billy' was outstanding -- what talent for such a young age -- and all of the children were fantastic. Great historic story line too. Being Canadian, learned something new about the miner's strike.


Saw this in daughter and I just looked at each other at the interval- smiling and speechless! Ali Rasu was amazing...everyone was amazing...everything about it was amazing! So many emotions I have never seen ballet live before (must get out more) and I felt tears rolling down my face when Billy danced alongside his older self, it was so beautiful and inspiring...but all the dancing was fantastic. I thought the show might lack something without the music from the film but it did not. I had read there was a lot of swearing, there was but it was in context of the time and the situation- cannot fault anything!

Sabine Marwege

Great show, lovely theatre and a night out we all enjoyed. The dancing was brilliant and the story well told . Congratulations !


Good music, great dance routines, touching story. Elton John's reflection on the Miner's strike story of Billy Elliot works well. Certainly took me back to what was a period of intense social and economic dislocation. The young Billy Elliot performer excelled and the show is certainly to be recommended. Thank you, London.

What a fantastic show!!! Thoroughly enjoyed it, some really funny scenes together with some really poignant ones. Actor who played Billy was excellent - a superb dancer and loved his scenes with "Michael". Would recommend this show to anyone.


Billy Elliot is such a joy to watch. With history, dance and singing, tears of both sadness and happiness, the musical follows a true story. Amazing cast and fun, catchy songs. A must see for all the family. I would happily go see it again any day.

Prody V

Awesome play. The seats were wonderful and the ambience of the theate enriched the experience.

P Sansom

Performances were very good, the story line followed the film but none of the songs from the film were played, not a major issue though. Final part was disappointing in comparison to the film as the story line builds up to his first major performance attended by his family & Michael where the show seemed to fizzle out and merged into the encore. Congratulations to the cast and company we were enthralled throughout.

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