Review: ‘Billy Elliott’: ‘He Could Be a Star’

Billy-Elliot-Mitchell-Tobin

Up until last night, I’d never seen Billy Elliot the Musical.

I know. I’m such a bad theatre geek.

I’ll also admit that I’ve never seen the movie either. That’s two strikes against me, right?

But, there’s no third strike because I thought the show, currently playing at the San Diego Civic Center, was great.

The story is set in the 80’s around a miners strike in Northern England. Young Billy Elliot (Mitchell Tobin in the performance I saw) is living with his striking father (Rich Hebert) and brother (Cullen R. Titmus) when he stumbles on an unknown talent after boxing class: ballet. As he struggles with the idea that boys aren’t supposed to do ballet, the chance to audition for the Royal Ballet School in London appears and he’s got to figure out what to do. With the prodding of his ballet teacher and the eventual of understanding of father and community, he makes the leap and heads to London.

I usually steer away from shows featuring kids. They are always Acting with a capital A! and I usually can’t bear it. But, young Mitchell Tobin was fantastic as Billy. This kid has more talent in his two-tap dancing feet than most of us will ever have in our whole bodies. He can sing, dance and acts up a storm and he had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Another young actor, Jake Kitchin, plays Billy’s best friend Michael and he’s equally good. Both Kitchin and Tobin sing and dance their hearts out in ‘Express Yourself‘ towards the end of Act 1 and that was hands down the best number in the show.

The soul of the show though was the Rich Hebert as the father. Hebert, who’s been with the show for 3 years now, and it shows. He’s capable of stealing a scene with just a look and his presence in any scene made it that much better.

One odd thing happened during the show though: Towards the middle of Act 2, there’s a dance number between Billy and his older self. At some point in the number, Tobin hurt himself and had to exit the show. His standby for that night, Noah Parets, jumped into the role without missing a beat. Unfortunately, it took me out of the show for a bit. Not saying that Parets was bad. He was really good… but imagine if you were watching Daniel Craig as James Bond and 2/3rds into movie, Pierce Brosnan jumps into the role. Both are Bond but they’re totally different; mannerisms, dancing style, singing voice. It just took some getting used too and it’s unfortunate because I would have really liked to have seen Tobin in the end scene. That being said, Parets quickly won me over and it would be fun, I think, to see his Billy. Tobin, we were told after the show, is fine.

One drawback though, the characters are constantly saying, “Oy” to one another. As of this writing, I’ve said “Oy” at least 14 times. 11 of those times were to my cats. 

Billy Elliot is currently playing in San Diego. Visit Broadway San Diego for ticket information. Next stop is San Jose and Las Vegas. For tickets and more tour dates, click here.

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Sonny-Valicenti-mindhunter.jpg
Sonny Valicenti of ‘Mindhunter’ on His Audition and Potentially Playing a Serial Killer
"The character that I play, and the behavior that he exhibits, was kind of all that I was told." - Sonny Valicenti on His Audition
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/griffin-newman-the-tick.jpg
‘The Tick’ Star Griffin Newman on Acting in a Superhero Suit
"You very quickly realize there’s a certain iconography and a power to wearing one of these suits." - Griffin Newman
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Idris-Elba-Mollys-Game.jpg
Why Idris Elba Believes His “best performance is yet to come”
"There was a time when I was a job actor and I didn’t know what I wanted to learn from it – I just wanted to get paid." - Idris Elba
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Frances-McDormand-three-billboards.jpg
Frances McDormand on “Being the Other” Actress
McDormand talks about her unique approach to her career and uses her latest acclaimed role as an example.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/jb-smoove-curb-your-enthusiasm.jpg
J.B. Smoove Tells the Story of His Audition For ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’
"You don't know how the universe is gonna work for us. But all this plays a part in our journey" - JB Smoove