Billy Elliot the Musical

Theatre, Musicals
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Current cast features Ruthie Henshall as Mrs Wilkinson and Thomas Hazelby, Brodie Donougher, Ollie Jochim and Bradley Perret as Billy.

A decade 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.

By: Brian Logan

Posted:

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Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:65
  • 4 star:13
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|83
2 people listening
Avatar for Daniel L
Tastemaker

Really talented children on stage, supported by an excellent adult cast. I was so blessed to be able to witness this before it sadly has to end. However, the victoria palace theatre definitely needs a new makeover so I guess it is a good thing for theatre as a whole. Also, the London has to share its amazing offering to the rest of the country right? Billy Elliot is going on a UK tour so definitely try to catch them outside of London if you can't see it in London. This show definitely had majority of the audience dancing their way out of the theatre.

Avatar for Shona R
Tastemaker

Totally blown away by how talented the young dancers are in this musical.  They have such stage presence! In one scene in particular, Billy dances how he feels instead of describing it AND it will raise the hair on your arms.


If you liked the movie, you'll love the musical.  Well worth the time and investment - definitely worth getting seats where you are able to see the actors feet when they dance!

Avatar for Carmen
Staff Writer

If you loved the movie, you will totally embrace the musical! the music and dancing performance are perfect, actors are brilliant and their performance outstanding...for a few seconds you think you will see Julie Walters coming on stage... A classic must see London West End show!!

Avatar for Elisse C

Returned for the second time last night and was disappointed. Still as amazing as the first time I saw it. Incredible actors, especially the children. Rousing music and awesome choreography. Not to be missed

Avatar for Chris
Tastemaker

It's rare I return to a west end show, but I've seen Billy four times over the years - it's my 'go to' show when family or friends are in town looking for something to see. 


Don't go expecting The Lion King - the language is gritty and it's a good representation of a fairly dire era in recent history. But it's an emotional and gripping story well-told and well-staged, and the young actors all show extraordinary talent. I challenge you not to be moved by the end!


The only downside is trying to maneuver the grotty building site wasteland of Victoria!

Avatar for Tom
moderatorStaff Writer

Well worth a trip to see the theatre production if you liked the film - some fairly choice language which is pretty racy for youngsters but on the whole a great family show which takes you through the full gambit of emotions.

Avatar for Rosie T
Staff Writer

This is such a wonderful musical. 


I love the film very much and for a long time stayed away from the theatre production as I was worried that Billy Eliot as a musical would ruin such a brilliant and touching story. Well I was totally put in my place! This is one of a few that goes from film to theatre as a musical and absolutely works. 


The musical is a wonderful interoperation of the film, the story is told beautifully and the score is brilliant. I have now seen the musical twice and would very happily see it a third time. 

Avatar for Richard N
Tastemaker

One of the best British musicals so far with a perfect blend of humour and drama. Ruthie Henshall is amazing, and while I don't usually like child actors, the ones in Billie Elliot pulled it off with aplomb. Some fantastic choreography and unforgettable scenes, and really moving moments. It ends on a sad but meaningful note. Highly recommended. 

Avatar for Amy L
Tastemaker

This musical had been on my list of shows to see for a long time, and I wasn't disappointed. The show had the perfect mix of music, comedy and dancing to keep me thoroughly entertained. I have found myself still humming along to the tubes a few days afterwards. The location of the show is not exactly beautiful, being near Victoria station with lots of surrounding building works and scaffolding, however the theatre itself was very nice. A good show to take relatives who might be visiting London.

Avatar for Emma S

The worst thing was, I was too bored to even fall asleep. I just don't get the hype. If you're looking for good dancing, catchy songs and flawless singing, you wont find it here!


The story totally trivialised the miners strike and developed into something utterly bizarre by the interval - dancing dresses - what? Needless to say, I couldn't bare sitting through the second half, making it the only production I have ever walked out of. 

I really wouldn't recommend this musical to anyone!

If you want to see a ballet get yourself tickets to something by the English National Ballet or Royal Ballet. You'll find cheaper tickets, with stunning dancing and the most sublime music to compliment an already magical production. If you're looking for a musical with a good storyline, catchy songs and fab dance routines, go and see Kinky Boots or the Book of Mormon. 

For something that's been recommended to me countless times, I was truly disappointed. 

Avatar for Liz G
tastemaker

"Billy Elliot" had never been a show I was desperate to see but a friend and I went recently and it was fantastic! The dancers, especially the boy who played Billy, were incredible and the whole show was put together beautifully.

Thumbs up from us! #TOTastemaker

Avatar for Alanna S
Tastemaker

A stunning production of one of the best British films ever made. Incredibly emotional and powerful production with some exceptionally talented youngsters. My favourite West End show, you must go. 

Avatar for Sosh_uk
Tastemaker

Great musical. Such a roller coaster of emotions, that was very well acted by the cast. The boy playing Billy was phenomenal. The music and dancing are amazing and you can see why the musical is in its 11th Year in the West End!

Avatar for GeorgeX
Tastemaker

If you liked Billy Elliot's movie, then definitely you are going to fall in love with this musical. All actors play wonderfully, but especially Billy's 13 years old little actor is just amazing. You will be suprised of how such a young person can be so talented in acting/dancing/singing.The music is excellent, the choreography is excellent, the direction is excellent etc....One of the most emotional musicals running at this time in London!

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Avatar for Luisa G
Tastemaker

Amazing musical, breathtaking cast, wonderful music. There's a reason that Billy Elliot has been loved for such a long time!

Avatar for Sarah R
tastemaker

I came expecting quite a boring musical, but was so pleasantly surprised! It was full of emotions, made us cry and provoked honest laughter. Provides entertainment for everyone. And by everyone I mean, adults. Due to amount of cursing, I wouldn't take your young children to see this :)

Avatar for Tatiana N
Staff Writer

It's not a bad musical, but i wouldn't say is the best I have seen, main reason being that although the child performers were brilliant dancers there was too much screaming-ish songs - that shouting dance from Billy was a bit of an awkward moment me and my partner and some people around were thinking it was a bit too much. Also, and although part of the plot is the father and men figures not understanding a boys love for dance/ballet at certain points it was too much of the same, but overall I think it is a nice show to go to if you want to see a more "famous" / known kind of musical. 

Avatar for Carly-Ann Clements
Staff Writer

I do feel like a philistine saying this but I really didn't see the appeal of this show. Some of the scenes are good. Most of the dancing is great but it really doesn’t do anything for me. I love Elthon John but the score didn’t stay with me and I don’t think I could pick out any of the songs in a musical line-up.

I think having not seen the film may have been a hindrance on my experience and I think the fact that the theatre was pretty quiet also impacted my enjoyment. I can understand why people would enjoy it but I unfortunately didn’t.

Avatar for Warwick W

I was told that Billy is now in its 11th Year! No wonder really - It's a fab show. 

Word of warning, it's labelled as a family show but the language is a bit fruity at times if you want to avoid that awkward moment

If you haven't seen it, you've got to ask yourself why? It's brilliant - go see it!

Avatar for karen f

Saw this for the first time last night and it was SO GOOD. Cried, laughed and cringed at all the swearing (brought my boyfriends little nephew with me). Great cast and really heartfelt performances. I especially liked Billy's nan - legend!

Go and see this before it closes!

Avatar for bowertron

brilliant show - I've seen it so many times and think the music is exceptional. Each song I can usually imagine Elton singing himself. I would love to see a concert version of him singing songs from the show one day.

Avatar for Dennis White

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

Avatar for Christopher

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.

Avatar for carolhorwill@ntlworld.com

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.

Avatar for Rebecca

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.

Avatar for Prody V

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

Avatar for 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.

Avatar for Andrew

A great musical, a little on the long side with some unnecessary bad language but it is still well worth seeing,. The young boy who played Billy was excellent, as were the dance routines.

Avatar for Sophie

This was a tremendous show and so beautifully British. Not too sugar coated, actually rather gritty, with humour and pathos. Maybe could have been a little shorter, but the action flowed together seamlessly and had a great energy. And darn, can that kid dance!

Avatar for Dave

The kid who plays Billy is preternaturally brilliant. Precocious doesn't even begin to describe the rest of the young cast. And the backdrop of Thatcher's Britain is, for obvious reasons, more relevant now than at any time since she governed. Just one quick word of warning: you WILL cry (or at least come perilously close).

Avatar for Mark c

This was the third time id seen Billy Elliott and like a fine wine this show just gets better and better as it goes along, really builds along as the show goes on and is superb entertainment, very arty, funny and emotional too. I fully recommend this show for the whole family it really is one of the west end's best shows...5 stars

Avatar for Flo

An absolutely outstanding performance by all - it's amazing how talented the kids are in particular. It had the perfect mix of hilarity and seriousness and made for an unforgettable evening.

Avatar for Alex

This was outstanding. After a couple of major disappointments (Chorus Line, Curious Incident) it was a major relief to see a brilliantly acted and staged show. The songs are excellent and move the story along. The dancing is exceptional. There were several scenes which brought tears to a 56 year old's eyes - Billy dancing with fury against the police and strikers; Billy dancing with himself as an adult. And the young kid who plays his friend was both hilarious and poignant. Also loved the set piece where the cast sing Happy Christmas Mrs Thatcher. A real show for our times. I could see it several times over.

Avatar for Sandra

Absolutely amazing, actor playing billy was outstanding. Michael was hilarious and would definitely recommend it!

Avatar for Guest

Full of energy. The little actor who played Michael was absolutely amusing.

Avatar for LRS89

I went to see this show last night and the boy who played Billy is a little star; brilliant!

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