Ok, the title is a bit misleading, but for those who have read my blogs about Billy Elliot, you may have noticed that Brad Wilson has never had a review. No no no, its not that I hate him! I can assure you that is not the case and the lack of reviews are for a very valid reason. Despite seeing the show many times, since starting these blogs I have always missed his performances. Unless you have some inside information, its pot luck which Billy you get on the day, though for someone who loves the show as much as me, you can appreciate each Billy individually so as a result never feel disappointed by whoever you get. But it is nice to get to see them all, especially one who you haven't seen in such a long time.
Now I had seen Brad before, twice infact but it was such a long time ago. I was really keen to see him again. Knowing that he would be leaving in a matter of weeks, I needed to see his performance, so I could feel in touch with his interpretation of the role of Billy. Ok that sounded rather cheesy I know, but for his final performance on the 31st October I really wanted to have an understanding of Brad's characterisation of the role. That way I could just enjoy the last show and let it draw me in much like Tanner's final show, rather than sitting there studying all the things that he does differently to the other Billy's.
My memories of Bradley's performances all those months ago were not that easy to remember. They came at a time where whilst I enjoyed the show, I was not as connected with it as I am now. So at that time I maybe didn't pay as much attention to the way that each boy who plays Billy makes it his own. I honestly didn't know what to expect as I took my seat. For me this was a clean slate, a chance to give Bradley the chance he deserved, and that chance I had been waiting to give him for so long now.
It soon became apparent that I had missed so much. I don't want to knock down other Billy's whom I had given glowing reviews to before, but Brad had set the bar high, his standards far exceeded that of those which I had expected and remembered from those early performances. He really was giving so much, putting everything he had into delivering the goods.
I really don't know the best way to explain this. Each Billy normally has a strength and a weakness in their performance. The strength is something you are drawn to specifically, Tom for example is his acting, for Tanner it was his ballet. Now for Brad... there is nothing that stood out... and no that is not a bad thing at all. Rather than one element of his performance standing out, his entire performance lifts you off of your feet and sweeps you away. With every other Billy you watch their performance, with Brad you are part of his performance. I wish I knew how he did it I really do. When you have seen the show in excess of twenty times, it takes someone very special to make it feel like your very first Billy show again... yet Brad managed this with ease!
I don't know where Brad sees himself in the future, but I sure hope that it is on a stage somewhere. He is such a talented actor. He adds little touches to the role which are so real, and his interaction with other characters is so believable. There are young actors whom I have seen who just look cute on a stage... their talents are debatable. But this isn't just a kid on a stage, Brad is an actor and a very talented one at that! As for the cute factor... he has that too, you only need to read the program to find this out. He was taught how to look cute by the Billy House guinea pigs! Does that mean if I get guinea pigs I can look cute too? No? I didn't think so... oh well!!!
There is not a single moment on that stage where Brad ceases to be Billy. To top this off Bradley has a great singing voice and dancing skills to match. I used to envision his ballet would be in the shadows of Tanners performances, and maybe it was. But dance is a very personal means of expression and you can interpret it in any way you like, and honestly my interpretation is that it was perfect! Brad has obviously studied the role in huge depth, it really does show... so is he the best Billy? I think he may well be. Sure I love Tom, Ollie and Fox to pieces, and I am sure my opinion will change but right now Brad is on par with Fox at the top of my Billy league after the performance he gave that evening!
I actually feel gutted that I have not had the chance to see Brad more times, to date I have only seen him three times now. I guess it's the way the cookie crumbles, but I know the final show on Halloween will be immense... far better than trick or treating! I only wish that Brad's leaving was a Halloween trick... but as they say all good things must come to an end, and whilst Brad is drawing an end to his time as Billy, I am sure there is a new chapter about to open somewhere on the horizon!