Billy Elliot: Olivier Award Vote 2015
Last week, we kicked off our Olivier Awards round up with a whistle-stop, whirlwind, whizz around Wicked. We hope you'll be submitting your vote for the This Morning Audience Award to show that music theatre is alive and well and not just in the heart of London. If you're still undecided, we're here to help and this week we bring you a brief breakdown of the blistering Billy Elliot...
Composer: Elton John
Book by: Lee Hall
London home: Victoria Palace Theatre since 2005
Original production: Victoria Palace. Plans to open the show in its Newcastle heartland were financially unviable, and Billy stormed straight to the West End.
Based on: Stephen Daldry's 2000 film of the same name, which shot Jamie Bell to superstardom. The screenplay was written by Lee Hall, who also wrote the book for the stage musical. Daldry also directed the musical.
Who we’re rooting for: Billy Elliot. During the 1984 Miners' Strike, motherless Billy stumbles (almost literally) into a ballet class for the sake of fifty pence and is intrigued by the movement of the dance and the maternal Mrs Wilkinson in equal measure. Mrs W sees potential in Billy and persuades him he has a chance of being accepted in to the Royal Ballet School. But with his father and brother both on the picket line, money is scarce and Billy struggles to find the bus fare just to get to an audition in London.
Who’s standing in their way: To begin with, Billy's proud father - a north-east working man through-and-through, who can't begin to conscience a boy becoming a ballet dancer. But after sneaking a peek at Billy practising (a moving Swan Lake pas-de-deux with his older self), Billy's dad has a change of heart - even crossing the picket line to try and scrimp enough money to give Billy a chance to escape his background. From then on, Billy's only obstacles are class prejudice and Thatcherism at its height.
Showstopping moment: After punching another hopeful in the waiting room outside the audition, Billy's chances of getting in to the Royal Ballet School are fast disappearing. But at the end of his audition, the panel ask him why he wants to come and what it feels like when he dances. He tells them he feels a change 'Like a fire deep inside/Something bursting me wide open impossible to hide/And suddenly I'm flying, flying like a bird/Like electricity' before breaking into a solo dance number that practically sets the stage alight - a tour de force number that would tax a performer at any age, never mind the tender teen and pre-teen actors taking on the role.
Hidden gem: Solidarity - while Billy learns how to tell a plié from a pirouette, the Miners' Strike rages on outside. The miners and the police become more entrenched in their positions, and in the space of one musical number the action cuts deftly between the inside and the outside of the ballet class as 1984 flies by in a masterpiece of theatrical storytelling.
2006 Olivier Awards - Won:
Best New Musical
Best Actor in a Musical (shared by the 4 young actors who orignated the role of Billy)
Best Theatre Choreographer
Best Sound Design
2006 Olivier Awards - Nominated:
Best Actress in a Musical
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Best Set Design
Best Lighting Design
2009 Tony Awards - Won:
Best Book of a Musical
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (shared by the 3 young actors playing Billy)
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Gregory Jbara - Billy's dad)
Best Direction of a Musical
Best Scenic Design
Best Lighting Design
Best Sound Design
2009 Tony Awards - Nominated:
Best Original Score
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (David Bologna - Michael)
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Haydn Gwynne - Mrs Wilkinson)
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Carole Shelly - Grandma)
Best Costume Design
Has it won the Oliviers Audience Award before?: Yes - 2013.
One of the four original Billys, Liam Mower, performs 'Electricity' in 2006.
Nine years after originating the role of Billy, Liam returned to the Victoria Palace playing the part of Older Billy in the Swan Lake pas de deux for Billy Elliot: Live - now available on DVD. In a case of art-mirroring-life, he has also appeared as the Prince in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake...
NEXT WEEK: Jersey Boys
The nominees for the This Morning Audience Award at the 2015 Olivier Awards are Wicked, Billy Elliot, Jersey Boys and Matilda the Musical - to cast your vote, visit www.olivierawards.com