It seems somewhat fitting that following three years of COVID delays, Neptune Theatre will close out its 60th diamond anniversary season with its much-anticipated production of Billy Elliot the Musical, opening on the Fountain Hall stage on April 25 and running through June 18.
It’s an uplifting, feel-good show about hope, expression and joy… – Jeremy Webb
“Five years after announcing the show, we are finally able to bring it to our stage,” says Neptune’s artistic director Jeremy Webb in a media release. “It’s been a long, at times heartbreaking, journey to this point. Our patrons have been so patient, and I am confident that our audiences are going to be thrilled with this production. With 85% of the cast and crew hailing from Nova Scotia, I am so proud to showcase the immense talent we have in this province.”
With music by Elton John and a book and lyrics by Lee Hall, Billy Elliot the Musical is based on the 2000 film of the same name, telling the story of a young boy from a working-class family who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. Set against the backdrop of the 1984-1985 U.K. miners’ strike, the show explores themes of class, gender, and identity.
“Billy Elliot The Musical is an epic show about one boy struggling to find his place in the world; something that most people have experience with,” says Webb. “His family life and social background does not allow him to explore or express himself without an incredible struggle. It’s an uplifting, feel-good show about hope, expression and joy, something that I think is even more necessary now than when we were first planning on doing the show three years ago.”
Featuring a cast of local actors and performers from across Canada, among them is Patricia Zentilli, who plays the role of Mrs. Wilkinson, the small-town dance teacher who discovers Billy. A staple on the Fountain Hall Stage in the 2000s, Zentili was raised in Halifax and is a Dalhousie University Theatre program graduate.
“Any opportunity to play Mrs Wilkinson is one I would jump at, and then to be able to play with this company, and on this stage? I had to take it,” says Zentilli. “Neptune Theatre has been such an integral part of my journey as an actor, and to be here as part of the 60th season closing musical is a dream come true. I’ve had incredible performance teachers in my life, who’s love and passion for the art and teaching it have led me here. It’s a thrill to tackle this iconic role that’s a true love letter to arts educators.”
For the run, the role of Billy Elliot will be shared by Lennox Blue Powell and Nathan Malolos.
Billy Elliot the Musical runs from April 25 through June 18 at Neptune Theatre’s Fountain Hall stage (1593 Argyle St, Halifax). Visit neptunetheatre.com for tickets and information.