Donna Feore’s gritty new take on “Billy Elliot the Musical” at the Stratford Festival, kicked off the Festival’s 67th season with its first preview yesterday. The production officially opens on Tuesday, May 28, at the Festival Theatre.
As always I’ll be at all the opening nights, and I’ll collect all the reviews for you here on the “shows” page.
In the meantime, watch this sneak peek inside rehearsals for “Billy Elliot the Musical” at the Stratford Festival.
Here’s a fun fact: “Billy Elliot” is the most contemporary musical ever presented on the Festival’s thrust stage.
This production also marks the 25th season at Stratford for Canada’s top director-choreographer Donna Feore.
Feore has spectacularly reimagined “Billy Elliot the Musical” for the Stratford Festival with brand new staging and choreography, as she’s done before with enormous success in a string of back-to-back hits, including last season’s record-breaking “The Rocky Horror Show,” as well as “The Music Man,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” just to name a few.
“Dance has always been a cornerstone in my life,” says Feore. “It’s about to become one in Billy Elliot’s life and in the life of his troubled town. Billy has a gift, and it will shine like a diamond in the coal dust just as soon as he can figure out what it is.
We talk of being moved, of moving others and expressing ourselves in movement, but what does it really mean ‘to dance’? I can say that every day I come to work as a director I’m grateful that I began my career in dance. The rigour and discipline that it demands informs everything I do. Every step tells a story, every gesture carries us forward. Add music, words and song, and there’s no limit to the stories you can tell and no more powerful way to tell them.”
Nolen Dubuc stars in “Billy Elliot the Musical” at the Stratford Festival
Playing the title role is Nolen Dubuc, an 11-year-old powerhouse performer with a special connection to this musical.
Dubuc first saw “Billy Elliot the Musical” at four years old and left inspired to become a performer. Now, with a long list of awards and theatrical credits under his belt, he has made his way from B.C. to Ontario to achieve his dream of playing Billy in “Billy Elliot the Musical” at the Stratford Festival.
He is joined by fellow powerhouse performers Dan Chameroy as Billy’s Dad and Blythe Wilson as Mrs. Wilkinson, with Marion Adler as Grandma Elliot and Steve Ross as George.
Says artistic director Antoni Cimolini,“Like Billy, we all hope for support from the people we love and the community around us. As we watch him push back against his family’s expectations to pursue his passion, I think we can all recognize such moments of risk in our own lives, which makes his story deeply moving.
Billy Elliot the Musical
Directed by: Donna Feore
April 16 – November 3; opens Tuesday, May 28
Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street, Stratford, Ontario
Box office: 1-800-567-1600
Get tickets online
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