Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm a "Billyver"!

No.  That's not a spelling error.  I really am a "Billyver".  (Which is not in any way to be confused with being a "Belieber"...at all)

A Billyver is a person who is a fan of the musical "Billy Elliot".  We are a semi-exclusive club of musical theater aficionados (aficionadi?)  who know a good thing when we see and hear it.  Repeatedly.  While I am still a novice Billyver, I imagine I'll move up the ranks quickly as finances and geography allow.

It all started with an invite from a fellow Billyver and martial arts friend (I know.  You'd think those two things would be mutually exclusive, but they aren't.  And if you make a smart remark, bear in mind she's a second degree black belt.)  to attend a show in Cincinnati earlier this year.  I was all excited, got my ticket, planned a fun girl day with two additional friends, and then...I got the flu.  The really bad kind.  The kind no three other people want to be trapped in a car four hours each way with.  I brokenheartedly spent that day near the toilet, while my three friends got to see Billy Elliot.

Ah, but there was redemption when the Billy Elliot tour made its way to Louisville!  To celebrate my gastro-intestinal fortitude, my Billyver friend and I planned an overnight excursion to Louisville and threw in an underground zip line tour while we were at it.  But for this former theatre major, the highlight was not hanging from a wire 300 feet off the ground wailing for my mommy, it was without a doubt seeing Billy Elliot.

I admit, I love most all live theater, but there was something especially endearing to me that first time I saw Billy Elliot.  I had seen the movie years ago and remembered it fondly, but I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy seeing the musical.  The "Cliff Notes" of the story is that a young boy who discovers a love for ballet when he is supposed to be learning boxing causes strife in a family already hurting from difficult circumstances.  It is set in an Irish coal mining village in the 80s, so there is some rough language and adult themes woven in, but the dancing, music, acting, and creative set work all far outshone the rough edges of the story, and I fell in love.

When the chance to see Billy Elliot (or just "Billy" as those of us with a more intimate relationship refer to it) arose with an added show in Memphis this past weekend, my Billyver friend and I made our plans and headed out for the four hour drive to the theater.   It really isn't as grueling as it sounds - we use the TomTom to find the Olive Garden nearest the theater and splurge on alfredo dipping sauce for the breadsticks.  At this time, we speculate on which "Billy" we will see (there are usually three boys in a rotation for the show), who our favorite character is (mine's the dad), and what part of the show we are most looking forward to (hers is always the reading the address label part - it's never not funny!).

As we drove our full bellies to the theater after our Olive Garden pre-show lunch, we turned the corner behind the theater and happened to drive past the stage door.  There were several folks hanging out outside, enjoying some fresh air before the show.  As we slowly circled for parking what, or should I say WHO did our eyes behold, but...the man who plays the dad in Billy Elliot!  We gasped.  We did double and triple takes, and we vowed that if he was still standing there when we got out of the car we would go talk to him.  And by "talk to him" I mean try and get a few words out without appearing like a 90s preteen at a NKOTB concert.

Can I tell you - we jaywalked with purpose, walked up to "Dad" and asked for a picture, and chatted with him for a minute or two.  He was so great!  I think he was perhaps slightly taken aback that we recognized him before the show with no costume or make up, but once he realized this was my friend's performance #7 and my (measly) #2, I think he became less fearful that we were stalkers.  (Or not?)  We wished him good luck - "Break a leg" felt far too cliche for such a sacred moment - and we hustled down the sidewalk to the theater entrance in awe and rapture.  Dude.  We met dad!

The show was awesome.  We got to see a new Billy (who was phenomenal - how does a 13 year old do that???), a new Michael, and a new Mrs. Wilkinson.  We also saw several well meaning parents bring their children.  Take it from me - this is not for your kids.  If you want them to be inspired to dance, buy tickets to the ballet.  Most importantly, we saw our new friend (BFF), Rich, play "Dad" in that rough but eventually endearing way.

I laughed.  I cried.  And after the final curtain call, I realized I was definitely, irrevocably a fan for life.  We're already stalking the website for the show coming near us soon.

As the Monkees so eloquently summarized it - "I'm in love.  Now I'm a Billyver".

This is my "try not to cry or soil yourself, you are standing next to your favorite actor in the whole show" smile...




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