Reviewed: Billy Elliot the Musical at Curve

The new UK production of Billy Elliot the Musical is in full swing in Leicester.

(L-R) Lily Corkill (Ballet Dancer), Sophia Pirie (Allison Summers), Ava Mia Komisarczuk (Ballet Dancer), Jaden Shentall-Lee (Billy), Nesisa Mhindu (Sharon Percy) and Miley Dalton (Ballet Dancer) - Photography by Marc Brenner
The young cast of Billy Elliot the Musical, with Jaden Shentall-Lee as Billy - Photography by Marc Brenner

Directed by Nikolai Foster, the Made at Curve musical marks the first new production of Billy Elliot the Musical in the UK since the original, bringing fresh life to the story of a young boy who breaks the mould to follow his dreams.

Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed 2000 film of the same name caught the eyes and won the hearts of many at its Cannes Film Festival premiere. One of those eagle-eyed viewers was legendary music star Elton John, who soon stepped in to bring music to the stage production, with the book and lyrics by Lee Hall.

Winning more than 80 awards worldwide, Billy Elliot the Musical has appeared in theatres across the globe including New York, Sydney and Toronto, making for an international hit sensation.

Set in the mid-80s, we follow a small town family in County Durham, whose men mine and boys box. Whilst the miners strike and Margret Thatcher is at her most powerful, the story centres around a young boy who falls in love with ballet and battles to balance tradition with a newfound destiny and passion.

The cast features many adult professionals but it's most notable for the young company of boxers and ballet dancers. Most of these are Midlands-based or have local family connections within Leicestershire.

The standout performances of the night were (predictably) Billy himself (Jaden Shentall-Lee), his dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson (Sally Ann Triplet), and best friend Michael (Prem Masani).

Jaden Shentall-Lee as Billy and Joe Caffrey as Jackie. Photo by Marc Brenner

The acting, vocals and choreography were goosebump-worthy throughout the show, but the three most breath-taking performances took place during "Solidarity", "Expressing Yourself" and "Electricity".

Aside from an unmissable performance, the cast and crew deserve a moment of appreciation for the set. It’s amazing the things you can do with four fences!

While the miners cause disruption with their strike, this atmosphere is juxtaposed by Mrs Wilkinson and her ballet school's delicate nature. Ballet bars were being used for pliés one moment, protests the next.

The staging and production not only amplified the message of Billy’s story for those lost in the musical's magic, but it also showcased how talented our local Made at Curve team are, both on stage and behind the scenes.

The cast of Billy Elliot. Photo by Marc Brenner.

There is struggle, passion and more than a few laughs to help us connect with Billy and his family, just as many audiences have before us.

The only downside to this particular performance was the occasional sound issue, making it slightly harder to differentiate the vocals from the music in certain moments.

However, the standing ovation to end the show would suggest that everyone was in agreement that - on the whole - it was an incredible production to witness.


Are you ready to dance? Billy Elliot the Musical is at Curve until August 20, 2022.