Single-Song Showstopper: “Expressing Yourself”

To purchase the Original London Cast Recording of BILLY ELLIOT, click on the image above.

The theme for April 2012 at Musical Cyberspace is “Single-Song Showstoppers”, a series of big numbers sung by a featured characters in a show – typically their only solo, although they might sing minor bits and pieces elsewhere – each of which raise the roof.

Today’s single-song showstopper is “Expressing Yourself”, from Billy Elliot, a musical play with book and lyrics by Lee Hall and music by Elton John. The song is sung by Billy’s best friend Michael Caffrey, who was played variously by Ryan Longbottom, Ashley Luke Lloyd, Brad Kavanagh, David Bologna and Frank Dolceby in the original West End and Broadway productions.

The Setup: Michael Caffery is a different sort of boy. Like Billy, but in a different way. In this scene, Billy comes to ask Michael’s advice about whether he should go to the audition for the Royal Ballet School and finds his friend dressing up in women’s clothing. And what does Michael have to say about it? That there’s no shame in expressing yourself – even when you find yourself in the midst of a restrictive, inhibited working class community.

The Song: “Expressing Yourself” is loads of fun. I think perhaps what drew me to it was its complete irreverence. How many other musicals can you name where a little boy celebrates the virtues of dressing up in women’s clothing? There’s no baggage here. It’s infectious. You end up with a wide silly grin on your face as the number builds and builds into a fantasy where the two boys are surrounded by over-sized tapping dresses. All right, the tapping dresses might be a bit much, but the number is still great.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on “Expressing Yourself”. Click on the comments link at the end of this post and share them with us!

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