Billy Elliot - The Musical [Original London Cast Recording] [Bonus CD]

Billy Elliot - The Musical [Original London Cast Recording] [Bonus CD]

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Elton John is no stranger to theatrical productions -- make that hit theatrical productions. Aida and The Lion King established the pop phenomenon as a bona fide Broadway-bound composer, comfortable with the established conventions of writing for the stage. Billy Elliot finds John extending his winning streak with a score that abounds with hisSee more details below

Overview

Elton John is no stranger to theatrical productions -- make that hit theatrical productions. Aida and The Lion King established the pop phenomenon as a bona fide Broadway-bound composer, comfortable with the established conventions of writing for the stage. Billy Elliot finds John extending his winning streak with a score that abounds with his customary melodicism, tinged with drama and wit. Adapted from the 2000 family-favorite film of the same name, Billy Elliott provides John and lyricist Lee Hall with a wide canvas, corresponding to the plot’s blend of musical hall razzle-dazzle with the pathos arising from a miners' strike and Billy’s difficult home life. Whether it's the stirring miners’ anthems "The Stars Look Down" and “Once We Were Kings," the rousing “Shine,” “Electricity,” and "Expressing Yourself,” the slashing “Angry Dance,” or the heart-tugging ballad "The Letter," John gets to flaunt his range as well as his sheer enthusiasm for theatrical songcraft. The songs not only work within the show’s context but are also memorable enough to stand independently on a cast album. And speaking of casts: The score is further elevated by such striking talents as Liam Mower in the title role and Hadyn Gwynne as Billy's tough but tender dance teacher. It adds up to another winner of a show from John, a golden-touch composer for all seasons. [Parents should note that the song "Solidarity" has explicit lyrics inappropriate for children.]

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
The triumph that is the stage adaptation of the film Billy Elliot is all the more remarkable when one considers the many ways it could have gone wrong. Director Stephen Daldry's 2000 movie about a pre-adolescent boy in an English mining town discovering his love of dancing against a background of struggle among striking mine workers was set in 1984, but made excellent use of a score full of '70s songs by T. Rex and several new wave bands. A stage producer might have tried to turn it into a T. Rex jukebox musical, but that didn't happen. When The Full Monty, a British film with a similar setting and themes, was made into a musical, the story was moved to the U.S., and an American composer, David Yazbek, brought in. The results weren't embarrassing, by any means, but the British flavor of the piece was lost. That didn't happen to Billy Elliot, either. The hiring of Elton John as composer may have been the most dangerous choice in adapting the work, however. John has enjoyed success with the film-to-stage transfer of The Lion King, of course, and his Aida even won a Tony Award against a weak field in 2000, but he hasn't really been accepted in the musical theater ranks. Billy Elliot, which opened in London on May 11, 2005, should change that. John, who came out of a working-class background and overcame his father's resistance and other social pressures to attend the Royal Academy of Music, must have felt a special affinity for the story of a boy who does exactly the same thing, even though he winds up at the Royal Ballet School. As a result, he hasn't just dashed off a few pop songs that he could have sung himself and called it a score. His two main influences seem to have been the quintessentially English soccer anthem and swing music. The former serves him well in writing the many choral numbers in which the miners declare "solidarity forever" and the police respond derisively. The swing element serves the many dance numbers, and there's plenty of dancing. But if John is gifted in his ability to compose pastiche numbers nearly as good as the originals, he also knows his way around a ballad, and his music for such songs as "The Letter" (sung in the words of the boy's dead mother) and "Electricity" (in which the boy tries to explain how dancing makes him feel) is as appealing as anything he's ever written. But John's music is only one element in the production. An even stronger one is Lee Hall's libretto and lyrics, which bring out the twin aspects of the story, contrasting the miners' troubles with the boy's. Hall captures not only the idealism of socialism as it encountered the harsh policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's conservative regime, but also Billy Elliot's emergence as a dancer against the odds. And the score is well realized by a cast including Liam Mower in the title role and Haydn Gwynne as the dance teacher. Running 75 minutes, the original London cast recording is an excellent rendition of an excellent musical work. Elton John has done too much good work to call Billy Elliot his greatest achievement, but it is certainly the most outstanding theatrical project with which he has been involved so far, and it finally establishes his claim as a legitimate theater composer. [This edition includes a bonus CD containing three Elton John recordings of songs from the show. His performances of "The Letter" and "Electricity" have the unintended effect of demonstrating how impressive Martin Koch's orchestrations for the show are, since in John's hands they just sound like typical tracks that could be on any Elton John album. But the real corker is John's decision to record his own rendition of "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher," the miners' sarcastic holiday song, in which they celebrate Christmas only because it brings the hated prime minister one day closer to her death. This must be the most politically charged song John has ever recorded, and it is especially provocative taken out of the context of the show and dressed up in a catchy pop
ock arrangement.]

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/07/2006
Label:
Decca Broadway
UPC:
0602498765487
catalogNumber:
000613072
Rank:
11123

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Elton John   Vocals,Track Performer
Derek Watkins   Trumpet
Craig Armstrong   Vocals
John Barclay   Trumpet
Pete Beachill   Trombone
Mark Berrow   Violin
Jeff Daly   Woodwind
Michael Dove   Vocals
Yona Dunsford   Vocals
Simon Gardner   Trumpet
Roger Garland   Violin
Garfield Jackson   Viola
Alison Jiear   Vocals
Paul Kegg   Celli
Martin Loveday   Celli
Steve Pearce   Bass
Anthony Pleeth   Celli
Ralph Salmins   Drums
Jamie Talbot   Woodwind
David Porter Thomas   Vocals
Paul Willey   Violin
Bruce White   Viola
David Hartley   Piano
Martin Koch   Conductor
David Daniels [cello]   Celli
Stephen Henderson   Percussion
Tracy Holloway   Trombone
Matthew White   Vocals
Rachel Bolt   Viola
Deborah Widdup   Violin
Katy Stephan   Vocals
Warren Zielinski   Violin
Steve Paget   Vocals
Simon Preece   Vocals
Ben Castle   Woodwind
Alan Forrester   Vocals
Tom Pearce   Vocals
Natalia Bonner   Violin
Chris Dean   Trombone
Chris Lennon   Vocals
Isaac James   Vocals
Mike Lovatt   Trumpet
Emma Kershaw   Vocals
Steve Elias   Vocals
Laurence Davies   Horn
Samantha Shaw   Vocals
Susan Fay   Vocals
Richard Ashton   Horn
Michael Blake   Vocals
Perry Montague-Mason   Violin
Philip Bateman   Musical Direction
Poppy Coggins   Vocals
Erica Ann Deakin   Vocals
Alex Delamere   Vocals
Damien Delaney   Vocals
Trevor Fox   Vocals
Adam Goldsmith   Guitar
Christie Halsey   Vocals
Charlotte Hamilton   Vocals
Simon Harpham   Trombone
Chris Hornby   Vocals
Gillian Kirkpatrick   Vocals
Michelle McAvoy   Vocals
Emily Neil   Vocals
Daniel Page   Vocals
Lee Proud   Vocals
Stephanie Putson   Vocals
Stephanie Rawson   Vocals
Phil Snowden   Vocals
Alice Stephen   Vocals
Katie Stephen   Vocals
Jennifer Veal   Vocals
Ellie Jaine Woolf   Vocals
David Massey   Vocals
Tessa Worsely   Vocals
Paul Stevens   Woodwind
John Pinter   Woodwind
Tom Rees-Roberts   Trumpet
Michaela Blake   Vocals
Daniel Coll   Vocals
David Massey   Vocals
Mike Scott   Vocals
Karl Morgan   Vocals
David Coombs   Vocals
Christopher Tombling   Violin
David Woodcock   Violin
Ralph de Souza   Violin
Tim Jones   Horn
Jeremy Holland-Smith   Keyboards
Jonathan Evans-Jones   Violin
Alexander Delamere   Vocals
Jenny O'Grady   Choir Master
Ivo Jan van der Werff   Viola

Technical Credits

Elton John   Composer,Executive Producer
Phil Ramone   Executive Producer
Martin Koch   Producer,Musical Supervision
Julian Leaper   Orchestra Leader
Nicholas Gilpin   Producer
Billy London   Artwork
Lee Hall   Lyricist,Book
Nick Gilpin   Programming,Engineer
Steve Price   Engineer

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