Five Years... thats 60 months, 1826 days, 43824 hours or 2629440 minutes, it depends how you look at it. But regardless of how you see or interpret a moment in time, its fair to say that 5 years is a long time. It certainly is in London's West End, a place that sees few productions last more than 5 months, let alone 5 years, but... win over the audience's and it seems as though you can be there for good.
Last month Billy Elliot The Musical celebrated its 5th birthday, among a star studded audience, including the likes of Sir Elton John, David Walliams and of course me. At this stage I would like to clarify that the red carpet was in fact rolled out just for me, out of the kindness of my heart I allowed everyone else to use it! Please do not be under any illusion that it was there for the likes of B-list celebs such as Elton John... he knows he is below me in the celebrity listings. Its a sore subject for him... ok maybe not... well I can dream can't I? One day I tell you... one day... anyway moving on...
In a nut shell the show itself would be just like any other. Fronted by Tom Holland, who is now the longest serving current Billy, with the amazing Fox Jackson-Keen having left just days earlier. This of course was preceded with a speech by Elton John, Lee Hall and the shows director Stephen Daldry. Talking of the last five years, it really did sound a remarkable story that the show made it as big as it has. Whats more its popularity has strengthened with the productions opening on Broadway last year. Is there anything that will stand in the way of this show as it goes from strength to strength?
Though if I am honest, nobody was really there for the show tonight, well not as such. What was to be very special about this evening would be the finale, which would see 19 past, present and future Billy's perform together in a specially choreographed collaboration of dance. As the curtain at the Victoria Palace Theatre raises, applause and cheers fill the auditorium as each and every one of the 1500 strong audience are on their feet, christ the walls were shaking from the noise as the outline of three familiar figures stood before us. Re-united once more on stage, the three original London Billy's - Liam Mower, George McGuire and James Lomas were greeted with a well deserved standing ovation.
It doesn't sound like much, but the moment was really something special. For me there were some extra special strings attached, but we will talk of those another day. I was still in awe at seeing the three now grown up Billy's on stage as they burst into dance alongside the other 15 Billy's who had joined them on the night. It was hard to see who was who, as at almost any one moment there were three of four, sometimes more Billy's on stage. Most recognisable for me was Fox with one of his signature pieces of acrobatics and of course the unforgettable Liam Mower finishing the Billy section of the performance with some picture perfect turns, you truly had to see it to believe it, they were spectacular! Seriously I am no expert in ballet, but they were good, amazing in fact.
The billy section of the dance was brought to an end by 4 of the shows recent Michael's who took to the stage with a short tap routine. From a personal perspective it was great to see Connor Doyle back on stage who returns to the show in April to fill a gap in the cast until the new Michael arrives in May. Alongside Connor Doyle, George Maycock who left the show just days earlier, Connor Kelly who performed as Michael at the birthday show and Jake Pratt the remaining current Michael. As the tap routine continued, the four boys were re-joined by the Billy's who ensured the finale finished with a bang!
Wow... just wow... words at this point couldn't convey the energy and feeling in the auditorium. I don't think it would have mattered if you were a huge fan of the show or not, those three or four minutes were something really special. The atmosphere was electric, and that buzz went on into the night, as I set out on my quest to meet someone very special in my eyes. But that is for another blog. No really I will tell you who... just not yet...
So in summery... what a night. I don't even remember the show, just those five minutes at the end made it so worthwhile being there. But to see Fox, Liam and Connor, three of my very favorite actors all on one stage at the same time, well that is really something else, and has created a memory that will stick with me for a long time to come.