Vanselow as Billy and Maggie Wirth as his
grandmother in the Waukesha Civic Theatre
production of “Billy Elliot.”
- With the infamous coalminers strike in England
(1984-85) under Margaret Thatcher’s regime as
backdrop, we see two parallel stories unfold - one of
men fighting for their survival, and another of a young
boy fighting for his right to choose his own life path.
Both encounter sizable resistance and elicit our
Elliot,” a film that dazzled many in 2000, opened in
London as a stage musical and on Broadway in 2008 with
music by Elton John and lyrics by Lee Hall. Deservedly
receiving countless awards, it is now delighting many on
stages worldwide, including the Waukesha Civic Theatre,
a community theater that is known for its sparkling
the theater company managed to gather so many talented
vocalists and dancers to play all the roles, and to find
such a multitalented “wonder boy” to take on the
difficult role of Billy, is hard to conceive, but it
did. You have to see it to believe it. A cast of 35
graced the stage.
Billy, after finishing his boxing lesson (an activity he
hates), chances upon a group of would-be ballerinas
practicing their new steps in the same gym, he becomes
instructor, Sandra Wilkinson, immediately notices his
interest and his potential.
father, Tony, and his older brother, Jack, discover what
Billy has been up to behind their backs. Picture these
tough coalminers confronted with a young boy whose
aspirations are so contrary to their perceptions of
is also suffering the loss of his mother, who recently
died. She occasionally appears as his invisible
supporter, a role nicely portrayed by Gwen Ter Haar. His
grandma is one of the other few supporters he can depend
on, along with his dance teacher and his friend Michael.
choreographer, Ceci Scalish, probably deserves the most
notice for her contributions. The ensemble dance numbers
are electric, but the work she must have exerted to get
Billy, played stunningly by Ryan Vanselow, to his peak
performance, is beyond description. Occasionally, it was
a bit difficult to hear his spoken lines, but his
singing and dancing compensated for that little flaw,
and his very expressive face was always fun to watch. He
is perfectly suited for this challenging role
outstanding are his father, Tony, (Ben Bartos) for his
credible agonies and his beautiful vocals (“Deep into
the Ground”) as he is joined by his son, Jack, (Corey
Patrick), who can powerfully exude emotion. Maggie
Wirth, whose acting skills are legend in local theaters,
takes over the spotlight as Grandma in her rendition of
the song about the pleasure of dancing as a means of
escaping her otherwise rather dismal married life.
She gets her share of laughs, too.
Miller-Bayer as Sandy, the tough-minded dance
instructor, is strong as is Liam Thomas as the tortured,
lovable Michael, Billy’s friend.
The graceful dance number performed by Alex Vrba
as Billy dreams of his own future is stunning, and the
boogie managed by Noah Maguire as Mr. Braithwaite is
the direction by Mark E. Schuster, the costumes designed
by Sharon Sohner and the musical direction by Yeng
Parman-Thao, all deserve hearty applause. Wow!
“Billy Elliot, The musical”
musical runs through Nov. 11 at the Waukesha Civic
Theatre, 264 W. Main St., Waukesha.
Call 542-0708 or
for times and tickets.