Billy Elliot Says Goodbye to Broadway


Credit: Photo by Walter McBride (Broadway World)

Tonight, January 10, 2012 will seem strange if one happens to be passing by the Imperial Theatre in New York City. The theatre will be dark on what has been a show night for the past three plus years for the show Billy Elliot the Musical (BETM).  For the first time in over three years, the lights will not come up at 7:00pm on a Tuesday evening as a Small Boy climbs up onto the stage to begin what critics have called “the show of the decade” and “the best show you’ll ever see”.  For at 3:00 pm on Sunday, January 8th, Billy took his final bow on Broadway in grand style, the 1352nd time the show was presented on that Imperial Theatre stage (including previews).

The creative minds that brought this great show to the stage, first in London (where it continues for a 7th year) and then in other places around the world — including Broadway in 2008 — put together a very memorable final show.  The four boys who normally rotate the role of Billy from show to show (Peter Mazurowski, Joseph Harrington, Tade Biesinger and Julian Elia), were all featured on this day, transitioning from scene to scene and splitting the  major production numbers.  The two boys who rotated the role of Michael (Billy’s best friend played by Cameron Clifford and Jack Broderick), and the show’s two youngest actors who alternated as “Small Boy” (Alex Drier and Zachary Maitlin) each split an act of the show, and so got to showcase their terrific talents for one last time.


Credit: Photo by Walter McBride (Broadway World)

This unique spectacle produced standing ovation after standing ovation by a very appreciative and emotional audience. As one person stated (someone who has seen the show many times in various venues), this would not have been a good show for someone viewing BETM for the first time.  All the switching of roles would have been very confusing to them.  But there were very few of that type theatre-goer in attendance on this day.  It was a “veteran” audience, consisting mainly of many so-called “Superfans” of the show (people who have seen it multiple times), family and friends of the cast, and an impressive array of alumni from the Broadway cast of the show.  The latter list included Director Stephen Daldry and writer Lee Hall. Among former cast members there was Haydn Gwynne (who originated the role of Mrs. Wilkinson, Billy’s ballet teacher, on both the London and Broadway stages), Kate Hennig (Mrs. W), Gregory Jbara (Tony Award winner for the role of Dad), Carole Shelley (Tony nominee for the role of Grandma), former Michaels: David Bologna (Tony nominee for originating the role of Michael), Keean Johnson, Neil McCaffrey, Jake Schwencke, Trevor Braun, and Gabriel Rush, former Tall Boy Ben Cook (currently playing Michael on the US Tour), two former Billys from other productions of the show, Josh Denyer (Australia) and Hogan Fulton (London) and many others.

And then, after three hours of cheers and clapping, the show came to an end with what would be some of the most memorable moments of the afternoon.  As Billy (played at that point by Senior Broadway Billy Peter Mazurowski)  leaves the stage and walks up the aisle of the theater (and on to his bright future), Michael calls to him “Oi, Dancing Boy!”.  I quote audience member Chris McCormack concerning what happened next:  But then, not just one Billy, but “all four Billys emerged together running back down the aisle. Each kissed Cameron (Michael) on the cheek. The applause was deafening!  Then all four walked back to the aisle. Peter (Billy) called out “Cya Cameron”.  Cameron (Michael) called “Cya Peter. Cya Tade. Cya Julian. Cya Joseph.”  This, of course, was a variation to the scripted  “Cya Billy”, “Cya Michael” lines normally uttered at this point in the show.

That wonderful final performance of the show on Broadway was then capped by what was, for many, one of the most poignant moments of the day –  the traditional “Company Celebration” that serves as the show’s curtain call.  Except, on this special day, there was nothing traditional about how this final uplifting finale of the show would be presented.  Yes, the final cast of the show all participated in it as usual — but it included all four of the show’s final Billys, and both of the Michaels and Small Boys.

The three original, Tony Award winning actors who began it all in 2008 (Kiril KulishDavid Alvarez and Trent Kowalik) were given their solo moment in the spotlight one last time to tumultuous applause…


Credit: Photo by Walter McBride (Broadway World)

The original three Billys and the role’s final four were joined by five additional young men who have played the role of Billy on Broadway — including Tommy BatchelorJacob ClementeAlex KoLiam Redhead and Giuseppe Bausilio


Credit: Photo by Tristan Fuge (Theatermania)

And then by the entire final cast of Billy Elliot Broadway who took the stage for one final bow.


Credit: Photo by Tristan Fuge (Theatermania)

And thus the Imperial Theatre curtain dropped for the final time on what, for many, has been their favorite musical of all time.

As noted earlier, the show continues to play to adoring crowds at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London and is on tour across the United States (currently enjoying a four week stay in Washington, DC).  Future international versions of the show are planned as well.