Review: “Billy Elliot” at The Civic Theatre of Allentown

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Sarah Gordin

  • Contributing Critic

“Billy Elliot” is a feel-good story of a mining town on strike getting together to support a child who has the chance to get out of the town. The show is full of great dancing, catchy music written by Elton John, and a script by Lee Hall that never lags. This production at the beautiful recently renovated 19th Street Theatre was of professional quality.

Parker James Fullmore played the title role with talent and heart. He showed off his strong acting skills in the boxing scene and his strong singing in “The Letter.” However, his biggest strength was his dancing which was showcased in many numbers, “Angry Dance,” “Swan Lake,” and “Electricity.” This is the third time that Parker is playing this role (once in New Jersey and once in California), but it seems as if it is his first time going through the story as “Billy Elliot”. The things affecting his character seem to be touching him for the very first time. This is a testament to Parker's talent.

Mrs. Wilkinson played by Kathleen Oswalt was as comedic as she was heartwarming. There were, however, several moments where she was upstaged by other characters, and the audience lost their connection with her. Her daughter, Debbie played by Macie Bazella, was every bit funny as she was annoying, continually yelling “Mum!” at the top of her lungs.

Michael played by Todd Croslis stole the show during his big number, “Expressing Yourself.” Croslis has a strong future in the theatre and had the audience in the palm of his hand every time he was onstage. Robert Trexler as Dad was perfectly cast and showed his strong singing during the tender, “Deep into the Ground.” Joann Wilchek Basist as Grandma was hilarious. She had great comedic timing and her song, “We’d Go Dancing,” was a real standout in the production.

The ballet girls appeared to be very polished dancers in “Shine,” taking away from the comedic elements usually associated with the roles. Ballet girl standouts included Payton Ashley Fullmore as the spastic starfish Susan Parks, and Nayeli Nunez as the pie eating Tracy Atkinson. Mr. Braithwaite played by Zachary Einstein was ever present in these scenes, playing the piano and running the smoke machine. He was a riot during the great cardio jump roping number, “Born to Boogie.”

While the cast was fantastic, what truly made this production rise above and beyond were the technical elements such as the lighting, media, and impressive set. Make sure to catch this quality production in Allentown, PA before it closes on October 28th! It really is a show filled with so much heart and talent complete with a beautiful story.

Tickets are $34 for adults, $32 for Student/Military/ Senior 60+, and $13 for Children 12 and under. Tickets for “Billy Elliot” are available online at civictheatre.com or by calling the Theatre at 610-432-8943, or in person at 527 N 19th Street Allentown, PA 18104. Running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.