Billy Elliot: The Musical (Original Cast Recording)
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Billy Elliot: The Original Cast Recording
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The original cast recording features the acclaimed new score by Elton John and is produced by recording legend Phil Ramone. Hailed as 'The Greatest British Musical' by The London Telegraph, Billy Elliothas won universal acclaim for a powerful and theatrical score, unlike any Elton John has ever written. The songwriter has spoken about his strong emotional attachment to the story. This release will be issued as 2-CD box set: First CD with the original cast recording and the second bonus CD featuring three songs from the show performed by Elton John. Decca. 2006. NOTE: This product is delivered by the manufacturer in the form of a random assortment of two covers. It is therefore impossible for us to provide you with one cover in particular. By confirming your order, you will receive any of the cover image based on available stock. Thank you for your understanding.
NOTE: This product is delivered by the manufacturer in the form of a random assortment of two covers. It is therefore impossible for us to provide you with one cover in particular. By confirming your order, you will receive any of the cover image based on available stock. Thank you for your understanding.
Based on the 2000 film about a young British boy who tries to escape a future as coalminer by training in ballet, Billy Elliot--The Musical feels like an exemplary screen-to-stage adaptation, making the best use of composer Elton John's melodic resourcefulness. Fans of John's regular output need to be warned that this album is show tunes all the way and that they'd be hard-pressed to recognize the songs as usual fare by the author of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Your Song." Still, they really should give the CD a chance. Fans of musical theater, on the other hand, will need no prodding. They are likely to be enchanted by this recording, which shows that John has thoroughly absorbed the genre's classic strain. The show is very catchy, with well-structured, dramatic songs and some genuine tearjerkers ("The Letter"). Sir Elton even proves he's listened to great "jazz hands" classics (some by Kander and Ebb, perhaps) on "Shine," which even requests some "ol' razzle dazzle." Teaming up not with usual lyricist Bernie Taupin but with the film's screenwriter, Lee Hall (and its director, Stephen Daldry), John has written a lovely stage score, as evidenced on this recording of the London cast. Note that John himself performs three songs from the show on a bonus CD. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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After seeing the Cannes screening of the movie that literally sent him home in tears, Elton John, who at the time already had a name in the world of musical theatre as the composer of `The Lion King' and `Aida' in his collaboration with Tim Rice, was certain that the movie has all the potential for a musical adaptation. It is quite a good thing that he stuck to the idea and even more, he decided to use the original creative team that was involved with the movie and had both the knowledge of and love for the material. Thusly the director Stephen Daldry directed and Lee Hall the screenwriter wrote the lyrics for the musical version. After the musical started its previews in March 2005 it was praised by the critics as the best thing that happened to the British musical theatre in years and has been playing to the full house in London's Victoria Palace Theatre night after night. Among other things it won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award as the best musical.
This CD cast recording catches all the main musical numbers of the production. The score Elton John composed for this occasion is quite different from his prior show `Aida'. The latter had some exceptional pop, rock and roll and gospel numbers that won you over after the first listen. This is a bit different. Some of the numbers are deeply rooted into the framework of the North English area where the action takes place. This means we have some gorgeous working class hymns, songs of male choirs and club rock and roll music. They are all very well made, but it is not something that will probably make you ecstatic in an Andrew Lloyd Webber sense after the first listen. With a couple of listening, however, the score just grows on you so much you keep revisiting it over and over again. Several of the songs in the canon, however, hit you in the heart from the start. Some of the examples are: `The stars look down' (a very melodic opening anthem sung by the miners expressing their pledge to remain loyal to their just cause and honest way of life); `The letter' (a guaranteed tearjerker, a moving song in form of a letter written to Billy by his late mum before she died); `Electricity' (a big showstopper with Billy's elaborate dancing and explaining the way he feels when he dances) and a simple yet touching `He could be a star' (when Billy's dad decides to end his strike against the majority of his co-workers and go back to work so that he could help his son go to an audition to The Royal Ballet School in London). Other numbers are downright funny, such as `Grandma's song' (in which Billy's old and a bit senile nan deliberates about the painful life the women of her age had no choice but to lead after they got married very young), `Expressing yourself' (a hilarious number where young Billy joins his best friend, a nice closeted cross dresser gay guy Michael in wearing a women's tacky clothes of the 80-is, but this is rather a call for a need to support each person's individuality and be tolerant) and a giggling song called `Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher' (where the mining community expresses their disapproval of their political foe at their annual Christmas party). As a whole, Elton John has made his most ambitious musical theatre score up to date with this. Lee Hall's lyric reflect the language of the area and are very witty.
Some of the numbers must be seen on the stage to be fully appreciated, so the best thing to do would be to see the show in London. As someone who just did that, I can say it is definitely worth your time and money.
The cast on this CD does a very good job. Billy is portrayed by Liam Mower, one of the three boys who were originally selected to play the role; due to the fact that one child actor could not do such a demanding job six nights plus two matinees a week. Liam has a voice of an angel and he deservedly won his Laurence Oliver award, becoming the youngest person ever to do so. His vocals transfer all of the characters actions and emotions in the perfect way. His grumpy and encouraging ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, is played with much gusto by Haydn Gwynne, who puts on a great accent at that. Stephanie Putson evokes sadness with her short appearances as Billy's dead mum. Ultimately, it is the whole ensemble with these talented soloists that manages to deliver this touching story.
The single CD comes with some credits and production pictures, but no synopsis or lyrics are included, which can be quite hard for the people who are not familiar with the story. There is also a 2-disc edition, with a second disc where Elton John himself performs a couple of songs, and that one features the lyrics. The best thing to do would be to see the original movie before listening to this cast recording.
At the end of the day, `Billy Elliot' comes as a true winner in the current offer of the West End. The story can be applied to everyone who wants to pursue their own dreams or just simply to express themselves in the best way they can. This cast recording serves as a good testimony of the show that will fulfil you in a most rewarding way if you ever have a chance to see it, but it works just fine as an ordinary cast recording. The second best thing next to seeing this show alive would be a good DVD issue of this musical, so that is something to hope upon while listening to this CD at home.
When I went to see Billy Elliot, having seen the movie, I knew that I would enjoy it, but I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much. I was quite literally moved to tears several times, and listening to the recording of the musical still has the same effect (to the point where I can't listen to certain tracks while I'm out in public!). The musical moves back and forth from exuberant to mournful to defiant to proud to nostalgic as it goes from song to song, each emotion skillfully e4voked by the cast.
Definitely my new favorite musical, and one I hope to see again and again (though so sad it's off Broadway now!).
Top international reviews
Only complaint is missing an Act II musical number: the "Swan Lake" which is a very nice remix of Swan Lake when the younger Billy dancing with the Billy Older Self.