Billy Elliot | Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Billy Elliot Member Picks The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 28 2010

The stampede reflex is strong here. There's a powerful sense of a foregone conclusion concerning the marvelousness of this musical, based on Stephen Daldry's 2000 movie about an English coal miner's son who wants to be a ballet dancer. And that makes perfect sense. After all, the London production has been running for five years and the critical rhetoric tends towards words like "phenomenon." I know I was prepared to be wowed by the Chicago production. But I wasn't. It's not that the emperor has no clothes, it's that the clothes he's wearing are far too elaborate. This is basically an endearing little story, with a few nice songs and some interesting things to say about family love, talent, individuality, and the light and dark sides of working-class solidarity. But author Lee Hall (who also wrote the movie) and composer Elton John have seized on its political aspect to blow it up into a cluttered three-hour spectacle. They shouldn't have. --Tony Adler

Price: $28-$100

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