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 Post subject: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:52 am 
Mr Braithwaite

Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:10 am
Posts: 745
Location: Williamstown, NJ
The recent reviews in which the reviewers "missed it" have proven that BETM must be viewed several times to pick up the many layers of this rich show. Everyone gets the main plot of Billy overcoming all obstacles to persue his dream. Some, but not all, realize the theme of the united miners who are having their futures destroyed by their own government.
But there are many other themes that are mostly missed on the first viewing. These are what makes the genius of this great show even better than the film!
One of these is the theme that people should not judge others, or come to rash conclusions.
Billy is judged to be a "poof" because of his love of dance. This proves wrong when he rejects Michael's advances, but still keeps his friendship.
Another theme involves Michael. In the movie, we feel sorry for Michael. But the theme of the musical is that its ok to be gay and express yourself. We admire and respect Michael for his ability to accept himself, and thus the theme of acceptance.

OK, let's take a poll of the forum members who have seen the show multiple times. How many of us, at the first time that we saw BETM, picked up the theme of Mrs. Wilkinson treating her daughter so poorly in contrast to being so supportive and caring towards Billy? She berates Debby often and screams "shut up" when her daughter tries to get her attention. It is not uncommon that a parent has a favorite child. Sometimes mothers favor the boy, sometimes a parent will favor a talented child or maybe a child with a better personality. Either way, it is not right and this theme is easier to pick up after seeing the show several times.
Did you get the theme of the "rejected child" at the first showing? I didn't. There are other themes throughout the show which I hope others will add to this topic. Combined, they make BETM one of the best shows on stage anywhere in the world today. But they are only obtained from multiple viewings. Please add your comments.


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:57 pm 
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Billy
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Posts: 17597
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
Here's a similar discussion from a while back:

viewtopic.php?f=65&t=1905

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"I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance.”
-George Balanchine 1904 -1983


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:59 pm 
George

Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:43 pm
Posts: 561
Location: Colorado
Yes, during my first viewing almost three years ago, I was blown away by the talent and story line but it took many more viewings to appreciate the subtle themes. I think one also begins to look at the choreography and scenery more closely to see how it ties into the story.

One theme I have begun to appreciate is how each family member handles the loss of a mother or wife. Jackie keeps things bottled up inside until he can sing a folk song about his experiences at the beginning of act 2. Tony masks his grieving with anger. Billy deals with his motherless life by reading a letter and then responding with one of his own. Grieving is a process that is never the same for any one individual.


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:09 pm 
George
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Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:06 pm
Posts: 520
Location: Bathurst. NSW. Australia
OK so this got me thinking a bit and it is nearly 2 years since I saw the show.

The acceptance of old people as some of them loose their marbles. Grandma and her hidden pasties and sausage rolls on the landing! Even in the film when Grandma wanders off. There is no big deal about it, the family just accept and accomodate her into their everyday life. However, the twist comes with Billy always looking to his Grandma for advice with the innocence of a child he knows she can help him with the right words and support.

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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:13 pm 
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Billy
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But the musical does come from the film, after all, and it's clear at the end of the film that Michael still considers himself to be Billy's friend.

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Ellen



"I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance.”
-George Balanchine 1904 -1983


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:44 pm 
Mr Braithwaite

Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:10 am
Posts: 745
Location: Williamstown, NJ
Billy clearly rejects Michael's kiss, as portrayed by the facial expressions of the actors playing Billy, but he does not reject Michael as his best friend. The gift of the Tutu and the final kiss are both part of the acceptance theme.


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:21 am 
Miner
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Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:39 am
Posts: 430
Location: Boston, MA
accessmenj wrote:
How many of us, at the first time that we saw BETM, picked up the theme of Mrs. Wilkinson treating her daughter so poorly in contrast to being so supportive and caring towards Billy? She berates Debby often and screams "shut up" when her daughter tries to get her attention.

How supportive should Mrs. W be of a daughter who is airing the dirty laundry to the point of saying Mom is "sexually frustrated"? :lol:

But to your point, although certain incidents in the Mrs. W - Debby relationship were hard to miss ("shut up"), it wasn't like it resonated as a theme at my first viewing.


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:50 am 
Mr Braithwaite

Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:10 am
Posts: 745
Location: Williamstown, NJ
gpcolo has pointed out the theme of grief from loss of a loved one. It is an important and recurrent theme that deals with the four stages of grief.

Denial- Best demonstrated by Billy imagining his mother is still with him. In the first vision, she is lecturing him on manners, showing that she still dominates his everyday life.
Anger- Best demonstrated by Dad and Brother being so cruel to Billy when they realize how much he is like his mother and grandmother in his love of music and dance. "You're Mum's dead" and "Dance, you little twerp".
Depression-Best demonstrated by Billy's crying in "The Letter", which is his mother's goodbye, planned for years later. Also, Dad's crying when he got drunk after the Christmas Pageant.
Acceptance-Best demonstrated by "The Letter Reprise" where Billy accepts that he will not see his mother in any more imaginary visions. Billy is growing up.

This is why anyone who reviews Billy Elliot The Musical and questions "Angry Dance", "Deep Into The Ground" or "The Letters" because they do not think that they fit the plot, does not understand that they are all part of the grief theme. These reviewers missed it all.


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:06 pm 
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Billy
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Location: Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
In my post in another thread, linked above, I brought up the theme of "hunger" in the show. Billy's hunger for his mother is one example of this. Here's the link again: http://www.billyelliottheforum.me.uk/fo ... =65&t=1905

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Ellen



"I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance.”
-George Balanchine 1904 -1983


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 Post subject: Re: Themes and sub-plots missed at first viewing
PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:30 pm 
Billy
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:35 am
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Location: Rochester, NY
Regarding Debbie, it was obvious from my first time seeing the show how Mrs. W. yells at her and berates her. However it wasn't until my 30th show, on March 5, at a particularly strong performance by Aly Brier, where I concluded that Debbie doesn't really want to take dance lessons. This became clear with a number of great facial expressions from Aly in various scenes, plus the line:
"Anyway I don't have much choice, do I."

-Chris

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