Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Billy Elliot the Musical
Maltz Jupiter Theatre
Review by John Lariviere | Season Schedule

Also see John's review of Kinky Boots


Nicholas Dantes and Cast
Photo by Alicia Donelan
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre presents Billy Elliot the Musical featuring music by Elton John and book and lyrics by Lee Hall. The musical is based on the 2000 film Billy Elliot inspired in part by A.J. Cronin's 1935 novel "The Star's Look Down." The musical premiered at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London's West End in 2005, opening on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on November 13, 2008. Winning 10 Tony Awards, it closed in January of 2012 after 1,312 performances.

Set in the coal-mining town of County Durham in North Eastern England, the plot revolves around a motherless 12-year-old Billy, who trades his boxing gloves for ballet shoes. The story of his pain at the loss of his mother, and his struggle for acceptance by his father is balanced against the community strife caused by the UK miners' strike of 1984-1985, and the very real dangers of massive unemployment and poverty.

A live, nine-piece orchestra plays the score very well, from ballet music to rousing songs like "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher." A simple set represents the kitchen of Billy's home, a dance studio, a bar, and the outside of a factory. We are given splashes of color in the dance clothes worn by the dance school students, but other than that, all is accordingly pretty drab.

Shane Treloar delivers a scene-stealing performance as Billy's dress-wearing friend Michael, urging him to find his own way in the crowd-pleasing duet "Express Yourself." Elizabeth Dimon is gruffly charming as Billy's forgetful Grandma, especially in the song "We'd Go Dancing." Leslie Becker is wonderful as Billy's dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson. Though generally brusque and direct, her kindliness shines through enough to brighten Billy's life. The young girls playing Billy's fellow dance school students are thoroughly entertaining, particularly when matched with the testosterone-laden performances of men portraying coal miners. The two mashed together in the song "Solidarity" is one of my favorite moments of the show.

This musical would frankly fall flat if not centered around an actor of considerable talent and stature placed in the title role—the technical dance skills required are demanding enough for an actor in his early teens, especially as it is ballet rather than musical theatre. Though the singing requirements are not overly difficult, the acting moments require an emotional maturity not commonly found in an actor that age, even in a straight play. Young, Chicago-based Nicholas Dantes is a revelation in this role. Certainly, his dancing is at a level beyond his years, and the show is about Billy's dancing. More importantly, Dantes shows an understanding of the motivating emotions behind his dancing, and surprising subtlety in conveying those emotions. It is a rarity to find a script that hangs its hat on the talents of a lead actor who is so young. If you're thinking "What about Annie?," I would have to say that the script of Billy Elliot is far less balanced in terms of distribution of stage time and focal point moments. The Maltz is lucky indeed to have found Dantes for this pivotal role, as his remarkable performance sets the bar for the high standards of the rest of the cast.

Billy Elliot the Musical will be appearing at Maltz Jupiter Theatre through December 20, 2015. Maltz Jupiter Theatre is located at 1001 Indiantown Rd. (just off of A1A) in Jupiter, Florida. For tickets and complete information on the theatre's offerings, contact them by phone at 561/ 575-2223, or 800/ 445-1666, 800/ 445-1666 FREE, and online at www.jupitertheatre.org.

Cast:
Billy: Nicholas Dantes*
Mrs. Wilkinson: Leslie Becker*
Dad: Joe Cassidy*
Grandma: Elizabeth Dimon*
Mr. Braithwaite: Jay Johnson
Dead Mum: Sabina Petra*
Tony: Graydon Long*
Tina Harmer: Eliza Cave
Susan Parks: Skye Alyssa Friedman
Karen Davidson: Olivia Henley
Julie Hope: Allie Beltran
Keely Gibson: Sophia Liano
George: Chris O'Connor*
Billy: Jamie Mann*
Tracey Atkinson: Chloe Laine-Lobsinger
Alison Summers: Kylie Mata
Demi Jacobs: Demi Master
Angela Robson: Viviana Saporito
Small Boy: Brandon Ress
Tall Boy: Carson Maschmeier
Older Billy: Waldemar Quinones-Villaneva*
Ensemble: Lindsay Bell*, Mark Diconzo*, Mark Donaldson*, Timothy Ellis*, Alex Jorth*, Patrick Lavallee*, Arrow Zurschmiede, Karen Zondag, Brian Padgett

Crew:
Director: Matt Lenz^
Music Director: Ana Flavia Zuim
Choreography: Greg Graham^
Scenic Design: Rob Odorisio+
Lighting Design: Paul Miller+
Sound Design: Marty Mets
Costume Design: Robin L. McGee+
Flying Effects: ZFX, Inc.
Stage Manager: Nikki Lint*

*Designates a member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

^Designates a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, an independent national labor union.

+Designates member of the United Scenic Artists, a labor union and professional association of Designers, Artists and Craftspeople.


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