City Springs’ “Billy Elliot” co-stars Drew McVety and Liam Redford as father and son. CONTRIBUTED BY BEN ROSE
Hall’s script walks a finely tuned line between the grim realities of that environment and Billy’s fanciful “lark” about escaping to London to study at the Royal Ballet. It’s superbly embellished by John’s songs, a beautifully balanced mix of mournful ballads, rousing anthems and spectacular feel-good numbers. And Blocker does a highly impressive job of visually delineating the stark contrasts therein, with a masterful assist from lighting designer Mike Wood.
Elsewhere behind the scenes: the elaborate scenery is designed by Campbell Baird; dialect coach Cara Reid deserves credit for all the authentic accents; the uncommonly complex but admirably accomplished choreography is by Cindy Mora Reiser, with a nod to Lauren Brooke Tatum for a few flashy tap-dancing routines; and music director Judy Cole fronts the company’s skilled nine-member orchestra.
As performed by an invigorating cast of more than 30 singers, dancers and actors, the musical highlights are plentiful, including the stirring ensemble numbers “The Stars Look Down,” “Solidarity,” and especially the penultimate “Once We Were Kings.”
Liam Redford plays the title role in the City Springs Theatre musical “Billy Elliot.” CONTRIBUTED BY MARGOT I. SCHULMAN
But many less expansive or more intimate moments are just as captivating. Billy’s heartfelt solo “Electricity” is powerfully delivered by Liam Redford (a practiced young veteran of several earlier productions of the show around the country). “Expressing Yourself” is a totally delightful duet with his cross-dressing best friend (an adorable Seth Black-Diamond). In a “Swan Lake” fantasy sequence, Billy dances with an older version of himself (Luke Badura).
Pamela Gold has never been greater than she is here as Mrs. Wilkinson, the dance teacher who inspires Billy to pursue his dream. She leads her class in the amusing “Shine,” as well as Billy and her pianist (Rob Ouellette) in the boisterous “Born to Boogie.” By far the most touching moments belong to the lovely Bethany Irby as Billy’s dearly departed Mum, who appears to him to sing a couple of recurring refrains of “The Letter.”
Blocker’s uniformly fine cast also features Drew McVety (as Billy’s disapproving father), Haden Rider (as his volatile brother) and Karen Howell (as his dotty grandmother).
An ambitious undertaking remarkably realized, “Billy Elliot” confirms City Springs as an undeniable force to be reckoned with — gladly.
Through May 12. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $30-$62. Byers Theater (at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center), 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. 770-206-2022. www.cityspringstheatre.com.
Bottom line: A sensational success.