Mar. 5th, 2017

shannon_a: (Default)
K. and I saw our newest musical at the Berkeley Playhouse today, Billy Elliot: The Musical. It was most excellent, and a good panacea to mediocre plays of late.

The well-known story (based on the film) is of a boy who wants to become a ballet dancer, in a '80s mining town, where it was even more taboo. However that '80s date is also key, because it's right at the heart of Margaret Thatcher's dismemberment of England and in fact the story is set during a mining strike.

And personally, it was that historical story that really touched me. Of people losing their way of life*. But it wasn't just about livelihood, it was about community. This mining village was truly a family, and many of the songs that touched me most ("The Stars Look Down", "Solidarity", "Once We Were Kings") focused on that.

However, it was also hard not to be touched by the pathos at the heart of many of these peoples' lives, and their stern determination to forge on (for example: "Grandma's Song", "Mum's Letter", and "Deep into the Ground").

It was really a beautiful distillation of a whole way of life.

Yes, Billy's story was touching too. Yes, the dancing was beautiful.

Oh, and I loved some of the staging too (which I expect comes right from the script). Billy learning to dance as police and miners play hide and seek, sometimes dancing on their own (that's in "Solidarity") and Billy dancing with his older self ("Swan Lake"). Beautiful.

Overall, my favorite Berkeley Playhouse play in a while. And 20 days left if you're in Berkeley and want to see it.

* Your political assignment for the week is to compare and contrast the miners of Durham with the blue collar workers of the Rust Belt, both losing their way of life, one turning to each other, the others to Donald Trump.

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