Billy Elliot, the musical that TIME magazine named the best of the decade, officially opens tonight in Chicago at the Ford Center’s Oriental Theatre.
Based on the popular film, the musical has a book and lyrics penned by Lee Hall and music by Elton John and tells – according to the show’s publicity materials – ‘the funny and heartwarming story of a young boy with a dream, and a celebration of his triumph against the odds. Set against the historic British miners’ strike of the 1980s, the story follows Billy’s journey as a boy in a small mining town who, after stumbling across a ballet class while on his way to a boxing lesson, realizes that his future lay not in the boxing ring but on stage as a dancer.’
Leading the cast in the titlar role are Tommy Batchelor, Giuseppe Bausilio, Cesar Corrales and John Peter Viernes, with Emily Skinner as Mrs Wilkinson, Armand Schultz as his father, Cynthia Darlow as Grandma), Patrick Mulvey as Tony, Keean Johnson and Gabriel Rush alternating as Michael, Samuel Pergande as Billy’s older self, Jim Ortlieb as George, Susie McMonagle as Billy’s mother, Blake Hammond as Mr. Braithwaite and Maria Connelly as Debbie.
The ensemble features Matt Allen, Jason Babinsky, Elijah Barker, Madison Barnes, Cindy Benson, Sara Brians, Tony Clarno, Abby Church, Christine DeFillipo, Alexandra Dell’Edera, Faith Fetscher, Susan Haefner, Ryan Kasprzak, Kayla King, Kent Lewis, Will Mann, Kate Marilley, Spencer Milford, Brittany Nicholas, Mark Page, Mitch Poulos, Emily Richardson, Annelise Ritacca, Mason Roberts, Michaeljon Slinger, Jaclyn Taylor Ruggiero, Jamie Torcellini, Nicholas Torres, Brionna Trilling, Kayla Vanderbilt and Ryan Bauer-Walsh.
Stephen Daldry has directed the show, with choreography Peter Darling. The Broadway production, which is still running, won the Tony Awards for Best Musical in 2009. The official website for the show is available here.