Monday, 3 August 2009

We Were Born To Boogie (Part 4)

So I had just completed a double stint of Billy Elliot, which was all rather awesome, yet I still had the urge to see it some more. There is something about the show you just fall in love with. That tied in with my need to see Tanner Pflueger perform as Billy, meant I found myself booking a ticket for the evenings show. Truthfully I wasn't too bothered which Billy I saw, however I would have been totally gutted had I have missed the Friday evenings show and found out he was actually performing that night. It was a no brainer, book a cheap seat and I would enjoy it whatever the outcome.

Remember I told you in the last blog how Tom was playing the role of Michael? Well he was back again in his usual role of Billy at this evenings performance. It had been quite some time since I had seen Tom playing the part so was quite looking forward to it. I have recently found myself comparing the 5 Billy's a lot, noticing the little things they all do differently which in turn makes the character their own. From my perspective not only is it fun to compare it also helps me learn about how actors build their character. As from the same script you can watch all 5 Billy's, and the personality of each one is entirely different dependent on the actor who has been casted at that particular show. I pay a lot of attention to this, as when I get the chance to perform this will be something that I will have to consider. Just how will I make that character my own? What kind of personality will that character have? How will that character express their emotions and feelings on stage? In my drama class we touched upon this. It was rather interesting to see the characters people created. I didn't excel too well at that task so it is something I am paying a lot of attention to now, in order to do better next time.

So exactly how does Tom play the part of Billy? Well, compared to the other four Billy's, Tom is much more emotional within the role. At several points he allows Billy to cry, where as other actors choose to have him fighting back the tears. This is a superb decision by Tom, as it shows the vulnerability that he sees within the character. He only chooses to show this level of emotion in scenes around Mrs Wilkinson and his dead mother. Theres a line of Grandma's early on in the show "What he lack's is a mother's touch". Tom clearly identifies with this and only allows Billy's emotions to show when he is within a maternal comfort zone. In a sense I think Billy sees his mum in Mrs Wilkinson, and whilst she will never replace his mother in heart or mind, he allows his character to open up to her. This allows both Mrs Wilkinson and the audience to see the softer side to him and that big heart that Billy possesses.

On to Connor Doyle who was playing the role of Michael at this evening's show. Connor is an outstanding performer, theres not been one show in the five times I have seen him where I have felt disappointed. Michael is a character with a huge personality so you need someone with an equally big personality to play the part, and Connor is just this. He has a real art of using dramatic pauses to emphasise something Michael is doing. In most cases with the comical nature of the part, Connor can have the audience rolling around in laughter.

What I love about him is his ability to appear natural at whatever he does. Whether its dancing in a dress or saying an emotional goodbye to Billy, Connor rises to the occasion. The final scene really shows how adaptable he is as a performer. With a huge smile he calls Billy back to the stage with the line "Oi dancing boy". Billy returns to say goodbye with a kiss on the cheek. As he turns away, Connor shows that underneath that huge smile of Michael's is a broken heart. With his best friend walking away, that smile soon turns to a face of sadness, and as the curtain falls you can almost imagine Michael turning his back and bursting into tears. Connors expressions alone tell this story and go to show that whilst he is best suited in a comical role, he can play a serious emotional role to perfection also.

This kid is one of the most talented performers and off stage he is such a nice guy too. After chatting to him the day before briefly i didn't think he would remember me at all. Well after all a lot of people must talk to him right? Just to show what a nice guy he is, during the final curtain call he nodded in my general direction as if to acknowledge me, I nodded back. I wasn't truly sure if this was aimed at me, i mean that nod could have been to anyone in that area. Though the following day on my return to the show all this would become much clearer... thats a blog for later this week however!

So I have learned a lot about character at this evening's show, but I had still not seen Tanner!!! I had planned to do another double the following day as for Dennis it would be his last day in the UK until Easter and his last opportunity to see the show this year. I was also looking forward to seeing George Maycock in the role of Michael once more. I will tell you all about this in the final parts of the "We Were Born To Boogie" series of blogs later in the week. Until then, happy reading!!!

G xxx

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