HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Billy Elliot: The Musical - Live
HTS Overall Score:74
“Billy Elliot” the film came out in 2000 and became an overnight sensation, winning several academy awards including best director for Stephen Daldry. No one expected it to really win ANYTHING, as it seemed to be just another story of “follow your dreams”, this time for a young boy in England who finds out he’s really good at ballet. I myself was surprised just how much I enjoyed the narrative. Apparently it was enjoyable enough that it got made into a musical last year and traveled the world over on Broadway. This time it’s directed by veteran stage director, Brett Sullivan and the results are just as good as the Hollywood movie was, and in some ways better.
1984 was a rough time for a lot of people, but none so bad as the miners in jolly old England. They have just gone on strike and the repercussions are felt the nation over. Young Billy Elliot feels it the most, as his dad (Deka Walmsley) is one of those miners. He’s forced to take boxing lessons, a sport that he really has no interest in, and spends his days putzing around trying to get out of it. Finding himself drawn into the dance lessons of ballet instructor Mrs Wilkinson (Ruthie Henshall), Billy finds out that he’s got a taste for the style. Now this puts a bit of a strain on things, as Billy’s father is a good old fashioned man’s man. Meaning no boy of his is going to dance, that’s for sure. Well, one secret lesson turns into a few more, and soon Billy is getting really good at the sport. When his father finds out about his secret lessons, things get nasty real quickly, but Billy has to fight on for the dream he has. Even if that dream kind of defies standard gender stereotypes.
“Billy Elliot” has always been a fantastic show, and even more so on live stage. Elliot Hanna completely steals the play from the get go, as this is his first stage performance, knocking it out of the park. His innocence and newness to the stage transfers into the character of Billy, allowing him to play the character very organically. Somehow capturing the essence of the boy who just wants to live his dream in a world he doesn’t understand. Musically and narratively speaking, the play is a lot different than the film. It takes the general core principals of the film and adapts it to the stage. The music, the plot, and even many of the happenings in the play don’t coincide with the happenings on screen, but that’s something I can completely live with considering the completely different mediums that film and stage are. The Play feels just a tad bloated, as it runs almost 3 hours long vs the 2 hours of the movie, and sometimes I felt scenes were extended past their breaking point. However, those quibbles are minor, as the sheer energy and vibrancy of the stage music and the dancing are completely infectious.
Elliot Hanna steals the stage presence wise, but the music is really one of the main attractions to the show (well, that and the dancing). Written by Sir Elton John, they have an energy and ferocity all their own. Heightening the emotions of the audience to a different level, much more than the film was able to do. There is definitely a sense of darkness to the play, much like the movie, but the music and the dancing have a way of making that darkness seem a bit more palatable.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56713[/img]“Billy Elliot: The Musical – Live” comes to Blu-ray with a solid looking transfer that mirrors the stage environment quite well. Since this isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster with lots of effects and makeup we can’t expect the same kind of image. Much like a standup comedy show what we’re seeing is a camera capturing what’s happening on a live stage, warts and all. The image clarity looks very good overall, with no apparent artifacts besides some black crush due to the lighting. The lights on stage are well lit, but looking directly into lights like that can cause some black level funkiness. Colors are bright and cheerful, sometimes a bit washed out due to the lights, but nothing wild. Fine detail is good, with the costumes showing off every fiber available to the eye. Blacks are crushed, but rather serviceable and the disc itself appears to have a fairly hefty bitrate to it.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=56721[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA is just as well done. Dialog is spoken cleanly and clearly, captured well and replicated without any noticeable hiss or distractions. The only flaw to the dialog comes from the fact that on a stage production we can’t get EVERY line of dialog to come out crystal clear. While the dialog is important, the real focus of the audio track are the song. Sir Elton John’s music comes through loud and clear, with a robust feel that is magic to the ears. Lyrics are perfectly clear and there is a nice amount of weight behind the low end. Surrounds are mainly used for the music, but thankfully the music is a good 75% of the time, so they really DO get solid use.
• Behind the Curtain
• An Introduction from Elliott Hanna
“Billy Elliot” is a load of fun whether you’re watching the stage production of the Hollywood film itself. The difference between the two are fairly big, which means that if you’ve seen the movie then there is plenty in the stage production that will be new to the viewer. I will admit that it is a TAD too long, and sometimes a bit more bloated than it needs to be. However the music is completely intoxicating the timeless story of striving for your dreams is a tale that can resonate with anyone. The disc itself looks and sounds very good, especially considering this is a live performance, but the extras ARE a bit lacking. Still, its’ a good rendition of the movie and well worth checking out. Recommended.
Starring: Elliott Hanna, Ruthie Henshall, Deka Walmsley
Directed by: Brett Sullivan
Written by: Lee Hall
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 169 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 13th 2015
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