Broadway Box Office

Jay Brandford and Alex Holton of Billy Elliot



Billy Elliot, the three-year-old West End smash hit and winner of nine British Best Musical awards, recently leaped across the pond, landing on the stage of Broadway’s Imperial Theatre. Based on the popular Academy Award-nominated 2000 film, the show tells the triumphant tale of a British coal miner’s son who eschews the popular local pastime of boxing for ballet. Helping to bring its music (by pop superstar Elton John) to life are Jay Brandford of Hastings-on-Hudson (The Color Purple) on sax and Alex Holton (The King & I) of White Plains on trumpet. Features Editor Laurie Yarnell chatted with them recently.

Q: What do you think of Elton John and his music for this show?
A: Holton: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved his music. He’s a fantastic composer and musician and his score for Billy Elliot is wonderful, with songs for every emotion and age.
A: Brandford: I am very impressed by his stylistic variety for this production’s music. When he needs to write a song for a kid to sing well, he writes a clear, direct melody that a kid can do a good job on, and when he needs to write something that sounds like an old-fashioned folk song, he does it just right—the song is beautiful.

Q: Why do you think people are still willing to spend hefty sums on Broadway tickets in this economy?
A: Holton: In hard times, we all need an uplifting experience that goes beyond money. A Broadway musical—with great music, great dance, and a great story—is a great way to go.
A: Brandford: It’s still a really special feeling to be an audience member of a production where live actors and musicians create a one-of-a-kind performance right there in front of your eyes. It’s certainly much more enjoyable than spending a couple of hours in front of the TV.

Q: So why should someone shell out $125 a seat to see Billy Elliot in particular?
A: Holton: If someone wants to be sure of not wasting his money, this is the show to go to. When I go out of the stage door every night, there are huge crowds of people standing there, who’ve been uplifted by the show, waiting for us.
A: Brandford: It’s a really unusual way to tell the story of a kid growing up. Whether you are a kid or a grown-up, a child or a parent, this show will really speak to you.