Updated: Thursday, 19th April 2018 @ 7:17am

Review: Billy Elliot the Musical @ Manchester Palace Theatre

Review: Billy Elliot the Musical @ Manchester Palace Theatre

| By Edward Roberts

A night at the theatre could achieve many things – from tears of joy to tears of sorrow.

And Billy Elliot the Musical succeeds in everything it sets out to accomplish as it takes its audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

The production – based on the 2000 film directed by Stephen Daldry – first debuted on the West End in 2005.

It’s since spent the last 11 years picking up awards while touring the likes of Australia and North America.

But as it touched down at the Palace Theatre, the question was: how exactly would it fare in Manchester?

The answer was immediately clear from just a few moments in as the audience first met Billy, played by 13-year-old Lewis Smallman.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, the story revolves around a small north east town that’s thrown into turmoil during the miners’ strike of 1984/85.

Each new day brings with it different struggles; ones between the miners and the police, ones between the rich and poor, ones between fathers and sons.

Amid the unrest – of which Margaret Thatcher and her government are at the centre of – emerges the unique story of Billy.

That’s because instead of heading to boxing classes at the request of his dad – played by Martin Walsh – the youngster starts learning ballet in secret.

This is where the journey really begins as Billy finds himself on a bumpy road to the Royal Ballet School in London.

During the production, it’s difficult not to find yourself sucked into the story as it plays out between a series of breathtaking musical numbers.

ASTOUNDING: Annette McLaughlin played the role of Mrs Wilkinson

On this night it was clear that the cast meant business as each entered the stage with boundless enthusiasm for their roles.

In particular, ballet teacher Mrs Wilkinson – played by Annette McLaughlin – was simply captivating from start to finish.

While in this type of high-calibre production it would be unfair to suggest that one cast member outshined another, a great deal of praise deserves to go to the teen who played Billy.

Lewis – one of four rising stars who are taking on the role during the show’s stint at the Palace Theatre – simply oozed talent in every single scene, whether he was singing, dancing or acting

He easily demonstrated his knack for comic timing, as well as an ability to mesh with every other performer on stage.

It was therefore unsurprising that he received a resounding round of applause on more than one occasion – the loudest of which came following the final number.

In truth, many of the audience didn’t appear to know what had hit them as they exited the venue.

During the three-hour performance they had been riled up, choked up and had their heart-strings pulled upon.

But they’d also been left elated, relieved and fulfilled before all was said and done.

Whether you’re a theatre-goer or a theatre-novice, it would be extremely hard to find any fault with this production.

It’s therefore fair to say that Billy Elliot the Musical deserves a spot on any stage – and Manchester is lucky to have it until January.

You can catch Billy Elliot the Musical at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 28 January 2017.