Review, ‘Billy Elliot’ – Frank McKone

19 April 2024

Frank McKone’s full review was published on Canberra Critics Circle blogspot . Excerpts below.

Billy Elliot the Musical is about community.  Not just a coal-mining community in northern England in 1984 where the story is set. Jarrad West and his huge cast make the evening about celebrating the performing arts in our community right here. The audience in The Q were as energetic and enthusiastic as the onstage dancers, singers and actors in being together. In community, in action.

It’s the real-life warmth of feeling that flows off the stage that makes this production so enjoyable to see.

Watching on a screen, at an emotional distance, means we focus on his individual experience. In the theatre with a real Billy singing and dancing, real police tap dancing through their duties, and all those young girls showing Billy the way, life is clearly so much more positive – and we are no longer just watching but enjoying with the performers their expression through the art of performing.

Character acting was also forceful, and engaging at times in less than pleasant situations. Overall, a highly successful production of a rather different kind of musical.