Sparkling journey into past with Billy

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Billy Elliot - Grand Theatre, Blackpool

TIME was rolled back to 1984 as Fame School of The Arts shimmied into their tutus and brought Billy Elliot The Musical to the Grand Theatre.

Billy’s ballet shoes are tough ones to fill as the role is demanding both vocally and physically.

But Thomas Atkinson more than rose to the challenge as he stepped in on this showing to replace Mikey Thomasson.

Thomas is no stranger to the part having played Billy in Clifton Academy’s performances, but if he was nervous of the Grand’s formidable stage, he never let it show.

He tackled complex and demanding choreography with endless enthusiasm and was particularly impressive in his audition piece.

Vocally he was confident and soulful and brought a cheeky charisma to the part.

Dan Waterhouse and Matthew Hurley created some hard hitting drama as Billy’s dad and brother Tony, particularly as the elder man prepares to cross the picket line.

Owen Broughton playing Michael shone with some great cross dress comedy and Jessica Cunnah was a Marilyn Monroe style, super glamourous Mrs Wilkinson.

It was an imaginative production with effective scenes, the dancers slicing through a particularly violent picket line clash was cleverly done.

Sound quality was a big issue throughout however and sadly this impacted on some of the poignant scenes like the reading of Billy’s letter from his mum and his audition.

Although the full orchestra gave a great accompaniment, the sound often drowned out the children’s voices which was a shame as great care was put into the north east accents.

The language is surprisingly salty for a youth show, but the audience is forewarned and the humour from this hardworking cast sparkles throughout.