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“Very few musicals provide such richness of background and character and such rapid shifts in mood from humour to anger, from hope to despair, and back. Donna Feore has clearly been inspired by the challenge and controls all of the musical’s complexities with vigour and panache…
While Billy may be the main focus of the show, there is another boy in the show who also displays an amazingly mature talent. That is Emerson Gamble, aged 13, who plays Michael, Billy’s best friend who comes to realize that he is gay and attracted to Billy. This would be a difficult role for an adult to play, yet Gamble gives a performance of nuance that few adults could equal.”
“Vocally, this opening night production blew the roof off the Festival Theatre. There were at least two moments where the applause went for as long as thirty-forty seconds and the actors held their positions…”
“Dubuc does a fine job as Billy, executing all the styles of dance the show requires skilfully, and, more importantly, always seeming truthful on stage. This is a hallmark of Feore’s work with young performers at Stratford – and she’s also coaxed a wonderfully dry comic performance out of young Isabella Suebing as Mrs. Wilkinson’s precocious daughter….
Chameroy, who so extremely hammed it up as Dr Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show last season that he should receive honorary membership in the Ontario Pork Congress, delivers his best dramatic performance in ages as Billy’s grieving father. It’s a much deeper part than I knew – and Chameroy subtly shows us each of Jackie’s small shifts along the road to finally supporting his son’s self-expression.”
“For two-and-a-half hours Tuesday night, Nolen Dubuc was Billy Elliot to a packed house at the opening of the Stratford Festival’s Billy Elliot The Musical, and the gifted 11-year-old’s performance elicited thunderous applause and roars of approval again and again….
Besides Dubuc, no other actor shines as bright as Blythe Wilson, who is inspiring as Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy’s dance coach. With a comically tough exterior caused by a failed career and marriage, she gives Billy the strong and supportive mother figure he’s missing. Early in their relationship, she informs Billy that “dancing is as much about you discovering things about yourself as it is discovering about dancing,” and that journey of discovery provides the real heartbeat of the musical.”
“A production at this historical and cultural remove could put its energies into filling in some of the blanks in Hall’s script, but that’s not Feore’s MO here. She rather embraces the material as a series of opportunities for what she does best: large-scale production numbers with kinetically inventive choreography. The tour de force is “Solidarity,” the hookiest song in the show, which sees confrontations between striking miners and the police mediated by children.”
“Director/ChoreographerDonna Feore has reinvented this musical for the Festival Theatre thrust stage-This alone is enough to entice audiences, but the heart, the humour, and the love of dance that Feore and the performers infuse into this production take the appeal of this project far beyond its exciting new staging…
There are some glorious numbers in this production, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite as stunning as the dream ballet performed by Dubuc and Colton Curtis, as Older Billy. Feore’s choreography and the dancers’ talent elevate this number to new heights (literally). “
“… for nearly three hours, Billy’s journey from a nobody to potential somebody (with a couple of discreet boy-to-boy kisses adding extra zing to the story) is a production that few will leave without shedding a tear or two and wishing that more young lives would have the courage to do their real thing.”
“From laughing out loud at hilarious instances, to tears flowing in heartbreaking moments, the audience at Stratford Festival’s Billy Elliot The Musical is taken on an emotional ride through a little mining town in northern England to the big city of London…
It’s an amazing, uplifting presentation – lively music, many laughs throughout, and a poignant, heart-warming tale. If you’re not concerned about your kids hearing the f-bomb used repeatedly, it’s also a show that an entire family can enjoy together. It comes complete with lessons important for all ages – in history, politics, acceptance, and individuality.”