Digital watercolor of the interior of a theater on Broadway in New York City. This was inside the Imperial Theater (See an exterior photo my husband snapped here).
Our travel itinerary allowed us only one musical, and while there were plenty to choose from I picked Billy Elliot. I had seen the movie from which it was based on earlier and totally adored it, so much so that I actually purchased the DVD as well as soundtrack CD. I think I watched the film maybe half a dozen times already. That’s how much I loved it.
I wasn’t so sure about how the movie would translate to a musical. The film had so much verve and quirkiness about it that I was sure wouldn’t come out well on live theater.
I wasn’t impressed with the set as for me it didn’t capture the rundown feel of a coal-mining town that was rapidly becoming obsolete. The transition between the working class Billy’s home to the tonier, middle-class (albeit husband made redundant) house of his ballet teacher wasn’t well executed. I also didn’t like how they made the teacher’s daughter anti-ballet boy instead of the encouraging child she was on film (where she said “Why don’t you join in?” when she saw Billy gawking at the ballerinas from the sideline. In the musical she says “You’re crap!” regarding his [better than theirs] dancing).
The theater people did their best, however, from the British accent to the rousing, highly emotional singing and dancing. I liked how they used a rotating double bed for Billy’s room, showing how lonely and misunderstood he felt. I worried they would cut out the parts about the struggling town and simply focus on the dancing boy with a dream, but fortunately the scriptwriters included enough context.
My husband, who hadn’t seen the film, said he enjoyed the musical. It was obvious how hard they trained for the performance, especially the child who starred as Billy. The result was a live show that could stand on its own, a great and inspiring story.
I thought Elton John did an average job with the music, but hey, the film used much-loved songs considered to be pop/rock classics (among them “London Calling” by The Clash, “Shout to the Top” by The Style Council, “Cosmic Dancer” and “Children of the Revolution” by T-Rex). Not even Elton John could compose an entire suite as wonderful as was put together for the movie soundtrack.
Looking back, uplifting, inspirational stories would often do well in any medium, so Billy Elliot was bound to be a Tony Award-winning success. The problem is me, I guess, as I always prefer the book over the movie, the movie over the musical, the musical over the [insert whatever comes next after a successful musical].
As for the Imperial Theater, I loved it. It was everything I imagined a Broadway theater to be. I said to my husband after the show that I wished I lived near NYC so that I could go to a Broadway performance at least once a month.
A look at the framed piece on Crated; I choose a white frame to go with the vivid oranges and deep blues: