Billy Elliot Opening Night, or: two sides of the same blogging coin

Tonight marks the American debut of the London box-office smash Billy Elliot: The Musical. The new musical, about a working-class boy with a talent and drive for dancing while living in the slums of London, opens at the Imperial Theatre after beginning previews October 1st.

Elton John provides the score with Lee Hall supplying both lyrics and book. Peter Darling is responsible for the show's plentiful choreography and musical staging.

Stephen Daldry directs a cast lead by David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish rotating in the title role. Also featured in the cast are Haydn Gwynne, Gregory Jbara, Carole Shelley, Santino Fontana, and Leah Hocking.

Adding Machine fans will also be glad to see Mr. Zero himself, Joel Hatch, making his Broadway debut in a supporting role as the boxing coach George.

The production's official website offers this brief synopsis: "Billy Elliot is a funny, heart-warming and feel-good celebration of one young boy's dream in a gripping tale of triumph over adversity. Based on the enormously popular film, this powerful new musical is the story of a boy who discovers he has a special talent for dance, while the boys all around him are more interested in boxing."

Cancellations of some preview performances due to set complications (see also 9 to 5) have plagued the show's word of mouth. However audiences have remained large and the box-office continues to be bring in money ($980,000 during the week of Halloween).

Citing an unremarkable score along with stylistic achievements trumping creative substance, fellow theater blogger Chris was rather ho-hum in his review of the show in previews (albeit considerably more receptive to his initial viewing of the London production). And while Chris rather despised the London incarnation, Steve on Broadway quite enjoyed it when he took in a performance back in 2005; he thinks the score is "exceptional" and describes the feeling audiences receive at the show as "electricity."

Two rather different points of view from two very well regarded bloggers. We'll see what the mainstream critics have to say tomorrow.



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