Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Bee-lee El-EEE-AUGHT!"

Saw the musical "Billy Elliot" on Broadway today.  It was "A Full Monty" meets "42nd Street" meets "Les Miz" meets "Chicago" meets "Hairspray" in many derivative ways. With music that is mostly forgettable. But when this matinee Billy (Liam Redhead - you never forget your first Billy) struck his first pose in Mrs. Wilkinson's grimy dance studio in Northern England, I started tearing!  And I didn't really stop until after the curtain call.  The musical hits all the right notes and is a crowd-pleaser a go-go with heart and tap dancing and some hand-clapping, feet stomping numbers.  Like "Mr. Holland's Opus," it knows how to work its audience and pull its strings.  I had a bawl.

The Billy Curse!!!

I first saw this film in Burbank, California at a matinee.  When I exited the theatre into the daylight of suburbia, snot was running down my nose and I could not stop crying.  I was not tearing, I was bawling.  Like Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, this is not a good look on a grown man. As I walked by Noah's Bagels and Gymboree I could not keep it together.  This movie had opened up such a wound in me that was buried for so long. 

The Brits do the "get out of this godforsaken dead end town while you can kid" films better than anyone and this is one of the finest.

I related on such a personal level of longing and wanting out and feeling different.  ("Take a number, Shoeshine!")

It is amazing that the 11 year old kid playing Billy has to carry this huge show. On Broadway!  Our Billy did it with all he had and was supported superbly by the cast.  I never give musicals that much acting credit, but these actors really were believable. Every one of them. 

The father looked so much like my own dad (but with lighter hair) it was both frightening and reassuring. 

"Billy Elliot" was one of the last films my dear old mum saw before she died. I had wanted her to see it so I rented it.  She was too sick to really watch.  Sad.  But I am sadder still that the last film she ever saw in her entire life was "Down With Love."  My fault.  It was not worthy.

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