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Theater Review: ‘Billy Elliot’

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 or call 888 SHN 1799 (888 746 1799).

For more information on the musical, go to

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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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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  • Michael Grogan

    Billy Elliot The Musical is so much more than the great dancing. And it is not about an Irish Boy’s dreams.It is about an area of northern England and the suffering of the townspeople. It is a shame that the reviewer missed it all.

  • johnnyc

    The story is set in North Eastern England, as Michael Grogan noted. But it IS the story of a boy striving to follow his dream to be a dancer and overcoming almost insurmountable odds along the way. The area, the miners and their suffering during the strike are important elements of the play, but the focus is still on Billy, as every official handout I’ve seen from the production company makes clear..

  • ERinVA

    It is entitled “Billy Elliot” after all, not “The UK Miners’ Strike of 1984.”

  • Gerry P

    Agreed. The musical is for BILLY, not on the miners. I saw it with a BART discounted tix. I would not have gone otherwise. A trifle long(ended at 11PM), my daughter@36 yrs. almost fell asleep. I would give it 2 out 4 stars as a msuical but 5 stars for the dancing! The dancing made it worthwhile for me. This reviewer did NOT rate it overall.

  • Rich

    While you’re arguing about what the show is about, I’d say it was the most entertainment packed into two point five hours I’ve seen in movies or theatre in many years. From its sheer elation to its sadness, I probably held back tears on easily 8 different occasions. The ballet sequence with his older self is a tear jerker. How many times have you watched two people dance with tears pf joy streaming down your face? There in a nutshell is what Billy is about. I’m proud to have known ya Billy. I’m going again, something I have never done.

  • kim

    planning to go see in a couple of it okay to take an 11 year old to see? bad language?

  • vill keen

    very bad language for children. bad language for adults for that matter and so unnecessary………………….

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