Saturday, 29 August 2009

Back To Billy (Part 2)

So its Saturday morning and I have to get myself up for 6am... god thats early. I really am not a pleasant sight in the morning. Come to think of it, I'm not a pleasant sight at any point during the day... even with my new hair cut! So whats the cause? A trek into London to get day tickets for Billy Elliot. I was going to meet my friend Charlotte for the evening show and was in two minds as to whether or not I should go to the matinee performance. Part of me wanted to go see something different, but there was also something telling me that if i didn't do the Billy matinee I would be missing out... I trusted my instincts, and went with Billy. Its always a huge risk trusting my instincts, last time I did this I ended up in an ornamental pond... bad times. Anyway, on with the blog...

In part 1 of this latest series of Billy Elliot blogs I talked about roles that maybe don't get as much recognition as they deserve. I drew particular attention to the role of small boy, and in particular Eliot Carrington who has set himself out as being the strongest of the boys casted in that role. I had the pleasure of seeing him again at today's matinee, and as expected he was in supreme form. Theres so much passion packed inside this seven year old's heart and sole, you just know he is destined to go so much further in life, and who knows maybe go full circle and end up back in the show as either Billy or Michael.

I also made a very brief mention of tall boy, a role casted for a boy of a similar age to Billy and Michael. Like all the child roles there are multiple actors casted for the part, and just as Eliot stands out among the small boy's, there is a fantastic young actor by the name of Jonathan Danciger who is by far is the best tall boy the show has seen. This kid is leagues above the other boys I have seen in the role! Jonathan has an ability to express deep feelings or emotions without having to say a word. The fear he installs in the character of "the scab's" son when he is hauled from the miners social club is a picture. The use of facial expressions and appropriate body language, paints the clearest possible image of whats going through his characters mind, just as it does when he plays an upper class boy in the royal ballet scene. Again without having to say a word, his body language and movement characterises the part down to a tee.

Though the moment Jonathan really shines is where he tries to console Billy after a poor audition. Not afraid to really get into the role Jonathan takes a hands on approach, ruffling Billy's hair and putting his arm around Billy's shoulder. This all sounds really simple, but other boys in the role seem to be a bit hesitant to do this,or at least do it believably. Billy's reaction is to slam him into the safety curtain in anger. Jonathan isn't afraid to go in hard, it actually scares me a bit when he does this. It is so convincing that you almost wonder whether the move has gone wrong and he has been injured. My heart skips a beat as I wait for him to get up and run to his dad.

When i was doing some drama things in school my teacher gave the class a valuable piece of advice, which to the day I remember word for word. "It doesn't matter how big or small your part in a show is, if you give it your all people will take notice" were those exact words, and this is what Jonathan does. he may not have as much stage time as Billy or Michael, but when he is on stage he puts such an immense passion and energy into the part. He really does stand out as a star in the making. Sure his part may not be very big, but when he is on stage he makes every second count... so maybe my drama teacher was right. I really hope Jonathan decides to pursue acting after his time in this show, he is born to be on stage.

Anyway before I go on. If anyone reading this is a theatre goer, please take the time to watch some of the smaller parts on stage. Its too easy to pay little attention to the supporting roles. But if you take the time to absorb their input, i think you will be pleasantly surprised. With every blog I write I will talk about some of the smaller roles at any given show. Sometimes it will be for better and sometimes for worse. However without these smaller parts the show wouldn't exist.

It wouldn't be a Billy Blog if i didn't talk about the lead role! But you know what? This bit gets harder every time. I try to make each blog different to the last, however when there are so many about Billy Elliot it does make it a tad hard to find new things to say in order to keep the blogs interesting to read. Especially when you take into account I am not a writer, I have never studied journalism, so I honestly cannot use the same tricks they have up their sleeve to sustain readership. But sustaining readership is a bit like maintaining your viewing base on prime time television. Lets face it that can't be too difficult... after all its taken Channel 4 this long to realise that Big Brother is in fact completely rubbish! Anyway back to Billy...

Tom Holland had the job of filling Billy's shoes at the matinee performance today. Every time I see him my respect for him as an actor increases. He pulls out all the stops to ensure each audience member feels connected to Billy's story. Of the current cast, Tom is by far the best actor within the role, i think its something that comes so naturally to him. Regardless to whether he plays Billy or Michael he always delivers the goods. Ok, I admit it... I don't have as bigger soft spot for him as I do Fox, but Tom is an immensely talented kid, and I love seeing him perform. When someone gives 110% every night, you can't not be taken in by it.

Talking of soft spots, I have just one other... Connor Doyle. I absolutely adore Connor, when I see him perform he just lights up the stage. Everyone says how wonderful Jake Pratt is in the role, but honestly I don't rate him all that much. But I will talk about Jake in part 3. Connor has so much more flare, committing himself fully to the role he has been given. He can sing well and has natural rhythm when it comes to his tap dancing. But over and above all of this he has that charm which a Michael needs. Michael is a very complex boy, with even more complicated feelings, and you need an actor who can open up and show these. That is just what Connor does at every single performance without fault. It feels like an eternity since I saw him last, in reality its probably only about a month, but thats a long time by my standards! It was great to see him again today. Along with Francesca as Debbie, it completed a fantastic child cast line up.

All that was missing from today's show was Kate Graham. I already miss her. There will be a special blog hitting your screens in the later half of this coming week which will compare and contrast the three Mrs Wilkinson's I have seen over the last few days.

You know what? Theres so much more I could tell you about this show, but I want to leave this blog soley dedicated to the child actors who make this show so wonderful to watch and be a part of. In the words of the song Shine... "it doesn't matter if you're large or small", because at the end of the day it boils down to passion, and when you have passion, you can be 4 foot 6 and still feel like a giant among men. Today was more than enjoyable, and the rumour was Tanner Pflueger would be performing the evening show... how could the day get any better than this?

Happy reading

G xxx


  1. Another great blog gareth , really, really good! Rob

  2. You say about Jonathan Danciger "is by far the best Tall Boy the show has seen". You must have seen a lot of shows to be able to say that?