Billy Elliott Triumphs at the Paramount

Neo Del Corral performs the title role in Billy Elliot: The Musical, playing now through March 24, 2024 at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. Trent Stork directs. For tickets, visit paramountaurora.com, or call (630) 896-6666. Note: Neo alternates performances as Billy with Sam Duncan. Photo credit: Liz Lauren
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It’s 1984 in rural England, and coal miners are on strike

Aurora’s Paramount Theatre has once again demonstrated its prowess in delivering captivating and socially resonant theater with its latest production, “Billy Elliot: The Musical.”  Already Jeff-Nominated, the production is set against the backdrop of the famed 1984 coal strike in the north of England when Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government broke the miner’s unions and threw the entire north into extreme poverty, where much of it remains today. It is nearly impossible to talk about this production without talking about that, because the parts that are actually about the miners’ struggle are among the most compelling with great soaring anthems delivered with heart by the talented cast.

Michelle Aravena (center) plays Mrs. Wilkinson, a dance teacher who sees unusual talent in a young boy named Billy (Neo Del Corral)

Billy’s timeless tale of self-discovery and defiance is brought to life with energy and genuine emotion by a massively talented cast, orchestra and crew.  Directed by the visionary Trent Stork, whose previous successes include the Jeff Award-winning “Kinky Boots,” this rendition of “Billy Elliot” showcases two young actors Neo Del Corral and Sam Duncan, who alternate in the titular role of Billy.  We were treated to a performance by Del Corral, who shows off his background in ballet at the Miami City Ballet in his excellent performance.  He’s an all-around triple threat with superior acting, singing and especially dancing chops, yet he is also fully able to grasp Billy’s essential boy-ness and working class background.

Michelle Aravena (center) plays Mrs. Wilkinson

Supported by a stellar ensemble cast, including Michelle Aravena as the sharp-tongued Mrs. Wilkinson the chain-smoking dance instructor who takes a chance on a miner’s son and propels him all the way to a Royal Ballet School audition and Ron E. Rains as Billy’s conflicted father wanting to support his son while fearing his incomprehensible ambition, the production strikes a perfect balance between heart-wrenching drama and uplifting moments of joy. Each character, from Billy’s feisty and somewhat demented  grandmother, expertly portrayed by Barbara E. Robertson, to his loyal and hilarious friend Michael played by the utterly incredible Gabriel Lafazan, to Billy’s older brother Tony, the excellent Spencer Davis Milford, is brought to life with nuance and authenticity, adding layers of richness to the narrative.

Ron E. Rains (center, left) is Dad and Spencer Milford (right) is his son, Tony, leading coal miners on strike.

The choreography by Isaiah Silvia-Chandley is nothing short of mesmerizing, seamlessly blending traditional ballet with contemporary movements to create breathtaking dance sequences that leave the audience spellbound. Set to the iconic music of Elton John and with lyrics by Lee Hall, who also wrote the book, the musical numbers are not only beautifully executed but also serve to propel the story forward, conveying the characters’ hopes, fears, and dreams with simple language and soaring melody.

Cast of Billy Elliot: The Musical

The simple set of a huge metal column representing the mine elevator and scaffolding with stairs and wheels to serve as multiple locations, while keeping in mind the grimness of the miners’ lives is absolutely perfect for this production, kudos to Michelle Lilly and crew.  And a special shout-out is owed to Dialect Coach Susan Gosdick for getting everyone into appropriate Northern accents, which aren’t the easiest to master.

With its stellar performances, innovative direction, and timeless message of acceptance and resilience, “Billy Elliot: The Musical” is a must-see production that reaffirms the power of theater to challenge, uplift, and inspire. This production delivers an unforgettable journey that will leave you cheering for Billy and his triumphant pursuit of his dreams. Don’t miss your chance to experience this theatrical tour-de-force – book your tickets now at Aurora’s Paramount Theatre.

All photos by Liz Lauren.

Author

  • Suzanne Magnuson

    Professional writer with 20 plus years of experience. M.A., M.B.A. Travel Editor and Social Media Manager for Splash Magazines Worldwide. Senior Editor. Member of Advertising Team.

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About Suzanne Magnuson 137 Articles
Professional writer with 20 plus years of experience. M.A., M.B.A. Travel Editor and Social Media Manager for Splash Magazines Worldwide. Senior Editor. Member of Advertising Team.

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