Review, ‘Billy Elliot’ – Len Power

14 April 2024

Len Power’s reviews are published on the Canberra Critics Circle blog, and broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs, and published in his blog ‘Just Power Writing‘. Excerpts below.

The director, Jarrad West, has brought together a show that is grand entertainment. It’s colourful, has extraordinary dancing, fine singing and polished performers in this often raw and strong musical.

Len Power

The demanding role of Billy Elliot needs a young man who can sing, dance and act. Fergus Paterson’s charismatic dancing in the ‘Swan Lake (Dream Ballet)’ and his singing of ‘Electricity’, as well as his dramatic interaction with other major cast members, showed an ability to create and maintain an in-depth characterisation.

Janie Lawson as Mrs Wilkinson gave a no-nonsense but warm portrayal as Billy’s dance teacher and was particularly impressive in the musical numbers, ‘Shine’ and ‘Born To Boogie’.

Alice Ferguson was highly amusing as a tough Grandma with a twinkle in her eye and Charlie Murphy gave a funny and believable characterisation as Billy’s friend, Michael Caffrey. His number with Billy, ‘Expressing Yourself’, was one of the highlights of the show.

Joe Dinn gave Billy’s father a threatening strength and there were fine and amusing performances by James Tolhurst-Close as Mr Braithwaite and Zahra Zulkapli as Mrs. Wilkinson’s daughter, Debbie. Jordan Dwight’s impressive dancing ability was highlighted in the ‘Swan Lake (Dream Ballet)’ with Billy. Other members of the featured ensemble had their moments to shine and the ballet school girls were funny and delightful.

The music was played very well, and the singing of the cast and ensemble was confident and enjoyable. The choreography by Michelle Heine was spectacular.