‘Billy Elliot’ is toe-tapping fun

Hetherington, second from right, can tell you what it feels like when you are dancing.

Though it’s hardly perfect musical theater, it’s hard not to fall in love with “Billy Elliot The Musical.”
The moving tale of a young boy discovering his dream owes most of its appeal to the production itself. The actors, artists and dancers bring so much passion and joy to their work that you can’t help rooting for them to overcome their adversities just in time for a big musical happy ending. And if you stick around for the curtain call (which you should), you won’t be disappointed.

But getting there is not without its challenges. At nearly three hours in length, the show could use a good edit. The dialogue is excessively chatty, and the pro-union, Thatcher-bashing talk can sometimes feels like overkill.

Even Elton John’s music, while passable, isn’t memorable. Lee Hall’s lyrics are often indecipherable, though that may be partly due to the impeccable Pitmatic accents of the supremely talented ensemble.
Thankfully, the show’s shortcomings are almost completely overshadowed by incredible dancing, stellar performances and heartwarming storytelling.

After the rousing ensemble number “Solidarity,” Billy and his colorful friend Michael (Kylend Hetherington and Cameron Clifford, respectively, at this performance) deliver the show’s most enjoyable song-and-dance sequence, “Expressing Yourself,” as the duo comes of age. It’s a nearly show-stealing turn by Clifford.

But the deafening cheers are reserved for the impassioned number “Electricity,” when Hetherington issues Billy’s response to the question: “What does it feel like when you are dancing?”

The plot:

As Margaret Thatcher continues to wreak havoc on the lives of striking coalminers, 11-year-old Billy Elliot accidentally discovers ballet. Though his passion is quickly squelched by his widowed, striking father and abrasive older brother, his teacher perseveres because she knows he’s got a gift.

If you go
‘Billy Elliot The Musical’
Through Aug. 19
Boston Opera House
539 Washington St., Boston
$33-$127, 617-259-3400


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