Review: Brilliant ballet is still at the heart of Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot, Victoria Palace Theatre, 18/05/2015

The West End production of Billy Elliot has long been hailed as one of the finest shows to see in London, and earlier this month celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Victoria Palace Theatre.

Having just announced a bunch of cast changes, Kaine Ward becomes the 28th West End Billy and the 62nd boy to play the role worldwide.

Though the well-known storyline pulls at your heartstrings (see us in floods of tears during a particularly emotional scene with Billy and his dance teacher, Mrs Wilkinson, played by Ruth Henshall), and the show’s healthy helpings of humour keep the show rolling, it’s breathtaking ballet that remains at the core of what makes Billy Elliot so memorable.

Stephen Daldry’s production leaves space for a handful of stunning solos for Ward’s lead role, culminating in his dance definition of being free. With Deka Walmsley stood silent on stage as Dad, all eyes are on Ward as he spins relentlessly to and fro, finishing with a back-flip off the wall.

Billy Elliot 2015

The really good news? Theatre goers don’t need to be proficient in ballet to appreciate the quality displayed here – it’s easy to admire, aspirational and full of fresh energy, while being easy to digest and fit for the West End.

A duet between Billy and older Billy (James Butcher) is beyond imaginable, as the pair soar about the stage in complete unison.

Todd Bell has his moment as Michael too, Billy’s best friend and champion of individuality from a young age. Watching the twosome sashay across the stage with a set of giant dresses may not be what we expected on arrival, but it’s impossible to forget.

If tonight’s performance is anything to go by, the new cast are settling into their Billy Elliot roles just fine.

Billy Elliot is now booking at the Victoria Palace Theatre until December 2015, secure your seats at