|Max Reed and Ryan Marlowe|
Photo by Candice Thornton, Easel Photography & Video
Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 19th.
"... Billy Elliot the Musical...makes for an emotionally rich journey not only of a young boy who finds his passion in dance but also for his father and the other inhabitants of a small North Eastern England mining town who are fighting a bitter strike. Mesa Encore Theatre presents a fairly good production of this Tony winning Best Musical with a talented cast and firm direction that get to the heart of this deeply personal story.... Billy Elliot is a 12-year-old boy whose father and older brother are miners on strike. Billy's mother passed away several years back and his grandmother is starting to show signs of senility. The only future for the boy seems to be a job working in the mines...Billy finds an escape from this world through a dance class he stumbles upon, but he hides the fact that he is attending classes as he is afraid that no one will understand his new found passion....The Mesa Encore Theatre leads all deliver nuanced performances...As Billy, Ryan Marlowe is quite good. While his singing abilities aren't as strong as his dancing skills, his portrayal of this complicated and lonely but very personable young man is full of charm, pain and love....Max Reed delivers a fine portrayal of Billy's emotionally distant father Jackie. ...The last few scenes Reed and Marlowe have together are heartbreaking. Katy Callie is excellent as Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy's dance teacher. ...She also has a lovely singing voice which excels on her songs...In smaller parts, Barbara McBain does well as Billy's daft grandma....Kristin Mabb is sweet and charming as the ghost of Billy's mum, while Noah McNeil is simply sensational as Billy's friend Michael who likes to dress up in women's clothes. His number is a showstopper. Griffin P. Siroky is superb as Billy's stubborn older brother. Director John Staniunas ensures the emotional scenes resonate though he isn't able to find a way to clarify the show's beginning, which is a little chaotic and confusing...The opening of the second act..also isn't as biting as it needs to be...Choreographer Cae Collmar provides plenty of fun steps though some appear to be simple and repetitive and Billy's dance that ends act one, in which he is extremely frustrated, needs to be much angrier in order for the audience to clearly understand the pain and suffering Billy is feeling....Also, the elimination of the fun and upbeat curtain call dance that features the entire cast shortchanges the audiences' enjoyment somewhat and also unfortunately ends the show on a very somber note. Mesa Encore Theatre is fortunate to be able to use the sets and costumes from Phoenix Theatre's recent production of Billy Elliot. Robert Kovach's scenic design and Cari Sue Smith's costumes expertly portray the working class characters and rough mining town...Klay Wandelear's lighting delivers some stunning visual moments. Dialect coach Julie Van Lith ensures fairly consistent British accents across the large cast. Even though it focuses on individuals struggling to get by and find their place in life, Billy Elliot the Musical is an upbeat and joyful musical with a heartfelt and emotionally rich book and score. While there are a few small shortcomings, Mesa Encore Theatre's production has a gifted cast and solid direction which results in an emotionally rewarding experience.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)