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Theater Review: ‘Billy Elliot’

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J.P. Viernes - Opening Night Lead (Photo by Joan Marcus)

J.P. Viernes as Billy Elliot in the musical on Opening Night. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – Billy Elliot the musical, based on the international hit film, celebrates a young Irish boy’s dreams of becoming a dancer.

The musical features five young actors playing the title role (alternating nights): Ethan Fuller, Kylend Hetherington, Lex Ishimoto, Daniel Russell and J.P. Viernes. Viernes, a Bay Area native, performed on opening night and displayed incredibly impressive dancing skills covering ballet, jazz, and tap.

The dancing is definitely the highlight of the show and fun to watch with young ballerinas dancing along side big, burly men in hard hats. One of Viernes’ solos with his own shadow acting as backup dancers was visually impressive and artistic.

The production has been awarded 73 national and international awards including ten Tony Awards, Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle.

While the songs may not stick to you after the show, there are a few entertaining numbers like the energetic ‘Solidarity’ and a touching number, ‘The Letter,’ that shows Billy singing with his late mother. Again, more than the music and the songs, the dancing is the highlight.

The musical also features Tony Award-winner Faith Prince starring as Mrs. Wilkinson who has an immediate presence on stage; Rich Hebert (Dad); Patti Perkins (Grandma); Jeff Kready (Tony); Joel Blum (George); Griffin Birney and Jacob Zelonky (Michael); and Rachel Mracna (Debbie).

Featuring music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, choreography by Peter Darling and direction by Stephen Daldry, the musical plays at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco through August 21st.

- Connie C. Kim, CBS San Francisco Reviewer

For tickets go to http://shnsf.com/shows/billyelliot or call 888 SHN 1799 (888 746 1799).

For more information on the musical, go to www.BillyElliotTour.com.

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(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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