So here we are on the seventh and final part of the "We Were Born To Boogie" series of blogs. By now you will have gathered I like the show a little bit... ok a lot, alright I admit it, i LOVE it. But what is there not to love? Its a show that appeals to all the senses and has everything you would ever want from a theatre production, packed into three hours of what is simply a master piece. You may have noticed that I haven't talked about the other cast members all that much. Seeing as they are on every night, I decided a blog should be dedicated to their collective performances, rather than reviewing them on a night by night basis like I have the Billy's and Michael's who rotate in the role.
Firstly I will say that there are so many great actors in the show, so many in fact that it would be impossible to mention them all. I truly believe that this show has without a doubt the best cast in London. This statement goes beyond their abilities on stage but also looks into their personalities and their ability to work with one another. Lets face it working with child actors is harder especially for roles such as Mrs Wilkinson and Billy's dad who are continually interacting with the kids. When there are five actors playing the role of Billy it takes a talented actor to work to their individual strengths in order to give the best possible performance for both themselves and the Billy who they are performing alongside.
Kate Graham has been playing the role of Mrs Wilkinson of late. She is a very talented actress who in real life couldn't be more different to the role that she plays. I love the way that Kate expresses the personality of Mrs Wilkinson. On the whole the character is a tough woman who doesn't like to show the big heart and loving side that she has beneath her hardened shell. Its only on two or three occasions with Billy that the maternal instinct comes to light, and its these developments which really establish just who the real Mrs Wilkinson is.
When you meet Kate in person it is hard to imagine her playing such a hardened character, yet she does it so well. I haven't seen anyone else playing the role in the 12 times that I have been to the show, but I couldn't imagine anyone doing it but her. In fact I don't think I would want to see anybody else, as when you experience the extraordinary in such a talented actress, it just makes everybody else seem... well... plain ordinary really. Kate is truly a delight to watch on the stage and in real life she is such a wonderful person. I'm not sure for how much longer she will be in the lead role, as Jo Ridding is in rehearsals already to make her come back in the show. I just hope that I get the chance to see Kate many more times before the formal cast change. Though she has assured me that she will be staying with the show as an understudy. I will need to find out when Jo is on holiday just so I can see Kate again!!!
Joe Cafffrey is the advertised "Dad" in the show, however I have seen his understudy David Bardsley on 8 of the 12 times I have been, including at all of the shows which have been mentioned in this series of blogs. Both are great actors, and it is really difficult to pitch them against one another, though there is something about David that is much more paternal than Joe. I can't put my finger on it, but when you see him perform you really do believe that he could be Billy's dad. Of course there are scenes that I believe one actor delivers better than the other, but I am going to sit on the fence on this one. They are both fantastic, and whoever I see delivers every time without fail.
Tony is played by Craig Gallivan. You may have seen him in Torchwood. Craig is fantastic. I don't think I have mentioned him in any of the previous blogs. On the face of it Tony is an angry character, in fact Tony is driven more by the passion for what he believes in, but feels he can only express himself, through being angry. But you realise as his character develops that he too has a big heart, and a lot of belief, just he doesn't know how to express himself. As the hope of saving the pits diminishes, Craig lets loose the emotion to deliver a powerful speech about how 200,000 miners were now doomed. The tears in his eyes really showed how much the strike meant to the real miners of the time. It makes you realise just how real this time must have been for so many men, so many families... so many communities. For a moment you have to remember that this story though fictional, for so many in real life Britain of the 1980's it was a stark reality of a very dark time. When you realise the truths behind the story, it really does hit you very hard. With his younger brother departing for the Royal Ballet School, its a hard time for Tony and Craig doesn't hold back in delivering these feelings. Tied in with the rest of the emotional climax to the story this is such a powerful speech and shows off just how good Craig is as an actor.
I would love to talk about every character before my big closing speech but I will focus on just one other. This has to be Barnaby Meredith. Not a bad word can be said about Barnaby. He is a versatile actor and a superb ballet dancer which we get to see in the Swan Lake scene. The technicality in this part of the show is immense, but what you have to remember is Barnaby needs to do this with five different boys on different nights. As a result, he needs to know and work to each of their strengths and weaknesses in order to bring out the power that this dance routine needs to deliver. This as I mentioned earlier is a huge talent, as each of the Billy's is a different size, a different weight and has a differing ability when it comes to ballet. So making sure the scene is just as good as the night before really must be difficult. Watching Barnaby dance in this scene with Billy is simply beautiful. I am no expert on ballet, in fact I don't know much at all. But what I know is Barnaby is damn good and deserves so much more recognition for his part within the show. This aside he is such a lovely person to talk to.
So yeah, here we are the end. Five great shows, across three awesome days. So many wonderful people from both sides of the curtain. Connor acknowledging me in two shows was awesome, as I said in the last blog such a small gesture makes you feel hugely appreciated. Having the chance to meet Fox, Barnaby, Kate and Connor was really nice too. My signed program looks awesome and will soon be framed and on my wall. And over a week on I am still reminiscing about what a great time I had. I am very much aware I started the last sentence with the word "and". I know its a grammatical no-no, but you know what? This is my blog and I am going to rebel. If only my old English teacher could see me now!!!
So after a marathon of Billy Elliot shows am i sick of it? Hell no!!! Charlotte and me are already making plans to go back, but with a lot of theatre studies work coming up, it will be difficult... but something tells me it wont take much to get me to another show. This leaves just one more thing to say.... Thanks to everyone who was involved in making this one of the most fun experiences in my life. So its back to telling you about my acting classes in my next blog. Until then... happy reading.