EVERETT — During the mid-1980s, in the midst of one of largest and most violent labor strikes in British history, a young boy fell in love with ballet. And his widowed dad, one of the striking coal miners, didn’t know what to think.
That’s the backdrop for “Billy Elliot,” the Village Theatre musical that opens at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
With music by Elton John and lyrics by Lee Hall, the musical is based on the 2000 movie of the same title. On Broadway in 2009, the musical won 10 Tony awards. What Village Theatre offers on stage at the Everett Performing Arts Center rivals the movie and the Broadway production.
Take, for instance, the men who play the striking English coal miners. These actors all are well known for their work with Village, 5th Avenue and many other regional theater companies.
They include Greg McCormick Allen (also Mr. Braithwaite), Scott Brateng, Doug Fahl, Duncan Frost, Erik Gratton, Eric Polani Jensen (Billy’s dad), Matthew Kacergis (Billy’s brother Tony), Danny Kam, Matthew Posner, Adam Somers, Dane Stokinger (who beautifully never stops smoking) and Snohomish County’s own Greg Stone, who played Jean Valjean in Village’s “Les Miserables.”
One can feel the pain of the labor strike, skirmishes with police, worrying about their hungry families and their anger toward the government of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Big, tough, sexy and talented, these guys can sing and dance. In fact, the men steal the show, even with all the cute kids working their tails off in this professional production.
Another highlight was the performance of ballet teacher Mrs. Wilkinson by Broadway veteran Mari Nelson. She, alone, is worth the ticket. She’s believable, generous to her fellow actors and a fine singer.
Also submitting great performances are Erik Gratton as Billy’s boxing coach, Faye B. Summers as Billy’s grandmother, Mallory King as the spirit of Billy’s late mum, Jasmine Harrick as Mrs. Wilkinson’s daughter Debbie, all the funny ballet girls and especially Quinn Liebling as Billy’s friend Michael. And I’m sure that Brandon Oke, another product of Snohomish County, who understudied his part in Issaquah, will do a good job as the small boy.
During the run of the show in Everett, audiences will see one of four 13-year-old boys taking on the role of Billy Elliot: Nikita Baryshnilov, Vincent Bennett, Bito Gottesman and Philipp Mergener. The boys rotate the part and also play other roles. Each does well as a singer, dancer and actor. No matter who you see, expect a good performance. It’s not everyday that one encounters such talented, athletic young male dancers, who all agree that more boys should dance.
As director Steve Tomkins says in the program, “At its root, this is a story about the promise of dreams and the power of community. It’s about a kid who had no chance in an artistic endeavor; it took an entire village to support him in getting there.”
Also find in the program the list of the talented people who are in charge of music, choreography, scenic design, lights, sound, costumes and managing the stage. They are just as important to Village’s success as the cast.
Note that the script includes some harsh language, so take care about bringing children of elementary school age or younger.
If you go
Billy Elliot: July 8-31, Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave.; tickets, 425-257-8600 or www.villagetheatre.org/everett. Showtimes 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, with a special matinee on July 28. There are also 7:30 p.m. shows Tuesday, July 19 and 26.