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Aurora’s Paramount stages ‘Billy Elliot’

Follow your dreams; Never let anyone stand in your way, no matter what the cost – that’s the message of “Billy Elliot.”

The musical “Billy Elliot” will run from February 7 to March 24 at the Paramount Theater in Aurora. The film is directed by Paramount’s artistic producer and casting director Trent Stork. (Stork won a Jeff Award in 2022 for directing Paramount’s “Kinky Boots.”)

“Billy Elliot” was first made into a movie in 2000 and was turned into a musical in 2005. It’s about a boy living in a small town in England. It is set during the coal miners’ strike in the mid-1980s.

“Billy is a kid from a tough little town – these people are very tough and never apologize for anything – and he just happens to take a ballet class led by this character named Miss Wilkinson,” Stork said.

“For some reason or another, Billy likes it. And it turns out he has a talent for it. Instead of going to the boxing class his father planned to go to, he spends his 50 cents to go to this ballet class.”

Miss Wilkinson takes it upon herself to train Billy further and encourages him to audition for London’s Royal Ballet School. My father finds out and naturally disapproves.

“This is where most of the conflicts come from; the father finds out that his son does ballet,” they said.

The story is told through song and dance.

“You see the emotions Billy experiences through dance; there’s a number called ‘Angry Dance’ at the end of the first act,” they said. “Her father forbade her from going to ballet school, and she vents her frustrations through dance.”

Spoiler alert — The father accepts his son and decides to support him; even if it meant crossing the picket line and returning to work in the mines to pay for the trip to London. The relocated townsfolk support Billy Elliot and help finance his trip to London for an audition.

“At this point the writing is on the wall. “They know the town will go bankrupt and the mine will close,” they said. “But there is a little boy who can get out. This person, who can achieve something on his own, gathers around this chance. It’s a really beautiful story. Elton John wrote the music, so every song is infectious.”

Choreographer Isaiah Silvia-Chandley has worked with Stork twice before.

“He has an incredible eye and ear for music. He grew up as the only boy in his dance class; “I was the only boy growing up in dance class,” they said. “This is a really special story and we have a really great team rallying around it.”

Stork saw “Billy Elliot” on Broadway in 2010. They went with a friend and each chose a musical to see; theirs was “Normally” and their friends’ was “Billy Elliot”.

“I thought, ‘I don’t want to see this musical based on this movie.’ “I was a pure theater actor at that time,” they said. “I didn’t really like ‘Next to Normal’ at the time. But when I saw ‘Billy Elliot’ I cried nine times.

“I didn’t expect the story, the music, the dance, or this little boy to affect me so much. It was one of the most profound theater experiences I’ve ever had. It was truly a testament to the power of a musical – the power of the story, the music, and the dance – all coming together to create a truly beautiful show and a truly transcendent experience.

“It’s literally one of those shows you’ll remember. “It has so much heart and so much artistry in it, and I’m so honored to be able to put it together and bring it to life at Paramount.”

The role of Billy will be played alternately by Neo Del Corral and Sam Duncan. The principal cast includes Michelle Aravena (Mrs. Wilkinson), Ron E. Rains (Father), Barbara Robertson (Grandma), and Spencer Milford (Tony).

“The entire cast is very talented and some of Chicago’s best actors are a part of this production,” Stork said. “We have Chicago royalty Barbara Robertson playing the grandmother. We have Ron Rains, who is a major figure in Chicago theater and a truly amazing actor in his own right.

“Spencer Milford comes in to play Billy’s brother Tony, and he brings a lot of aggression and raw emotion to the play. I didn’t know this at the time of casting, but Spencer was playing a character called Tall Boy/Posh Boy for the ‘Billy’ tour. Now he’s coming to Paramount to play Tony.”

Viewers will love the series; Stork calls it “life-changing.”

“This is the message, this is the story, it showcases the power of dance and how finding art in your life can carry you through all this darkness,” they said. “People are resisting. People overcome their circumstances, and this often happens through the power of art.

“Because they have found something bigger than themselves to hold on to, and they go through the darkness with it. “You can believe in your dreams and… I think it will always be important to hear that message.”

Paramount will offer open captioning on March 21 at 7 p.m. and American Sign Language interpretation on March 22 at 8 p.m.

Beacon News

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News updates from the Aurora area published every Monday and Wednesday

‘Billy Elliot’

Paramount Theater

When: 7 February – 24 March

Where: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora

Tickets: $28-$79

Information: 630-896-6666; paramountaurora.com

Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the Beacon-News.

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