Portage West Middle School seventh grader Andrew Klepser and Billy Elliot, the fictional title character of a film (2000) and musical (2005), have at least one thing in common: both were kind of surprised to discover they could dance. In a live interview, director Jay Berkow, actress Allison Crockett (Grandma), Max Butkiewicz (Michael) and Andrew Klepser (Billy Elliot) discuss the characters and themes of the musical, which will be a regional premiere in west Michigan.
Set during the doomed 1984-5 National Union of Mineworkers strike in the U.K. (one of the largest industrial actions in history), it tells the story of a motherless Billy Elliot, who lives with his somewhat senile grandmother and his father and brother, both coal miners, the latter involved in violence. Billy and his friend Michael are both accustomed to sometimes harsh and neglectful parenting, and so they set out to discover their own worth through trial and error -- Billy with the help of an unlikely mentor, the frustrated dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson.
Billy Elliot opens on Friday, May 4, and performances continue through May 20. Detail at the Kalamazoo Civic website.