Travis Yates was brilliant as Billy. Last time Billy was 14 and this time he was 12 and it showed a different perspective to his story. A 12 years old still has the innocence of a child and a different anger, more a frustration. In one way this felt as though it was a different child’s story, he was not on the verge of manhood yet had to live in the adult world. As he hugged Mrs Wilkinson at one stage you could feel the desperation of Billy for maternal. Travis could certainly hold his own on stage whether the poignant Letter songs to Electricity and the very energetic Born to Boogie. Brad Kavanagh looks like a old hand at Michael and plays him with a great deal of confidence, having no qualms about who he is, yet as Billy leaves Brad’s Michael was in tears knowing the one person who would accept him as he was would not be back . ‘Express yourself’ is a superb showcase for both boys, and they both excelled.
David Bardsley was excellent as Billy’s father. A man who has existed since his wife died, hardly noticing that his older son had taken over that position. It takes a lot of change his perspective on what is the best opportunity for his son. The change in relationship with Billy and his father was contrasted so well from the early scenes where they lived in the same house but not as a family to their final farewell where Billy ran to his dad, jumped up and hugged him mirroring one of the other boys at the audition with his father. It showed a very different relationship, an affectionate one. He created the different aspects to Jackie’s character really well and his song to his ‘dear Sarah’ was beautiful.
Chris Lennon was very good as Tony, perhaps not as angry as he could have been but a very believable character again locked into a battle which he had no control and someone who had, had no option but to take his mum’s place. ‘He could have been a star’ could have been a little more angry between Jackie and Tony but that is just an observation as opposed to a criticism.
Haydn Gwynne and Ann Emery were again excellent as Mrs Wilkinson and Ann Emery. Mention must be made of Alex Delamere as Mr Braithwaite. A classic case of don’t judge a book by it’s cover – Mr Braithwaite could certainly strut his stuff including doing the splits !. What a great supporting performance
Phil Snowden was very good as the down to earth ‘flat capped’ George, everyone knows a George somewhere in our communities and Stephanie Putson was warm and loving as Billy’s mum, making the Letter songs, both first and last, very poignant.
The final image of the miners descending into the ground is simply but effectively staged so eventually all that can be seen descending at the lights on the hats disappearing from sight to distant voices singing ‘the ground is empty, and cold as hell, but we all go together when we go’ . Solidarity to the end.
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