The Broadway opening of Billy Elliot has critics dancing in the aisles—or at least wishing they could. The "smashingly realized" show "traffics in a particularly British brand of bitter treacle, wallowing in the glory of the bravely defeated and the pathos of small, trapped lives," writes Ben Brantley in the New York Times. But the story of a coal-miner's son who loves to dance turns "tripe into triumph." In fact, it's a "hard-times musical," says Brantley, which makes its US debut a good fit for today's times.
"The show is crawling" with talented kids, Linda Winer writes in Newsday, who succeed in making it "as seriously thrilling as it is deeply lovable," though director Stephen Daldry occasionally gives in to "a jarring musical-comedy routine." And Elton John has written an "ambitious, varied, altogether satisfying, grown-up score," she adds, one she notes "we never dreamed he had in him." While a "show's claim to offer 'something for everyone'' usually signals disaster," writes John Simon in Bloomberg, this one does, "and that something is, gloriously, art."